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Healthcare for a Smarter Planet


Analytics across the ecosystem: A prescription for optimizing healthcare outcomes


Healthcare made with IBM: read dispatches from a Smarter Planet

A prescription for lower costs, better outcomes and healthier societies

At long last, the healthcare industry is in the midst of real transformation—shifting its fundamental focus from treating disease to proactively promoting wellness and preventing illness. As stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem embrace new technologies, healthcare is migrating from episodic and fragmented illness response to a patient-centric model of care delivery.

In this new paradigm, people are more than patients. They are individual health consumers, and they are becoming empowered and engaged as healthcare becomes more personalized and convenient. Technology is providing clinicians with more powerful diagnostic tools and the ability to share medical knowledge easily and instantly. And health payers and insurers are more like health coaches, providing products tailored to the consumer’s needs and guiding citizens to healthy lifestyles and outcomes.

Plus, in a significant shift from today’s payment structures and reimbursement strategies, providers will be rewarded more for health outcomes, rather than the volume of treatment provided.

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    This healthcare transformation is being powered by widespread adoption of cloud, analytics, mobile and social technologies that allow more effective use of resources across the healthcare continuum.

Now, healthcare professionals have the opportunity to deploy the right skills to the appropriate needs and deliver them in the most convenient and cost-effective care setting, simultaneously increasing health quality and safety while reducing waste and fraud.

That’s an incredible turnaround for an industry that has struggled for so long—and it’s happening fast. Although the challenges are many, healthcare is on its way to become a true “system of systems” that is focused on value, coordinated around the patient and integrated into our communities. It all adds up to an era of great opportunity for every organization and individual across the healthcare continuum.

Restructuring across the healthcare value chain

Amidst traditional office visits and hospital acute care services, the industry is moving towards delivering services in more cost-effective settings such as patients’ homes, community-based centers and retail outlets. This shift is driven by consumer demands for convenience, pressure to reduce costs and the availability of data to become actionable information at the point of care.

For example, consider the impact of electronic health records and advanced communications technology such as biomedical telemonitoring. These platforms already help providers deliver medical services across vast distances. Now, analytics, mobile, social and cloud technologies create unprecedented opportunities to extend healthcare services to even more people, improving access and lowering the costs of care. And by implementing a strategic approach to data security, organizations are becoming more confident in their ability to secure their healthcare enterprise.

The result is not just an increase in healthcare access, but also an improvement of outcomes, as complex conditions are managed in more appropriate environments. With chronic disease consuming as much as 75 percent of the healthcare resources of developed countries1, strengthening, coordinating and extending care delivery is critical in reducing costs and maintaining higher quality of life.


Care coordination is essential for changing the way the healthcare system is structured—and it requires greater data integration and deeper analytics to support the care planning process, care-transitions and the management of care delivery across multiple providers.

Smarter Care addresses this need by building systems of care around the individual and uncovering valuable insights into all of their care needs: behavioral, social and clinical. By taking a smarter care approach, a complete picture of the individual’s care requirements becomes clearer. Plus, care providers can team up to coordinate care like never before, using an array of new mobile apps.

Citizen access and engagement are increasing as individuals seek care in non-traditional settings and become more connected than ever with care services through easy-to-use devices.

We’re clearly in the midst of a patient empowerment movement. Sensors, devices and mobile companion apps help enable patients to collect data that can be used to monitor and support therapies.

Herman De Prins, chief information officer, UCB

Genomics and the promise of personalized medicine

Healthcare is steadily advancing toward the promise of evidence-based, personalized medicine for lifetime health maintenance and disease prevention through a convergence of information technology and medicine.

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    Innovations in life sciences are targeting new treatments and biologics through advances in genomics, proteomics and regenerative medicine, which holds the promise of saving damaged tissues by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms.

    As the cost of genomic sequencing falls, and as the ability to analyze healthcare information improves, genomic testing is

becoming a more accessible and important tool for personalizing healthcare. Detection of risk for not only treatment but disease prevention is now possible, while maintenance of health status becomes easier for consumers to manage.

The new knowledge base and cognitive computing

A new scientific paper is published nearly every 30 seconds.2 The total amount of medical information in the world doubles every five years. Doctors can’t possibly manage this much information alone, so they’re turning to IBM Watson, a cognitive computing system that can process millions of pages of medical information per second and continually “learn” as it ingests new patient scenarios, journal articles and clinical research.

Patient health data is growing exponentially as well, offering great challenges and opportunities. With the increasing prevalence of personal fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implantables and other sensors that collect real-time information, the average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime (the equivalent of more than 300 million books).

IBM Watson Health taps into all this data to create new and profound innovations across an ecosystem of partners and create a more complete and personalized picture of health, powered by cognitive computing. Now individuals are empowered to understand more about their health, while doctors, researchers and insurers can make better, faster and more cost-effective decisions.

As technology progresses, knowledge will be translated into practice more effectively and faster, with clinicians, researchers and informaticists collaborating across the globe in real time with proven results. Translational science will escalate adoption of new clinical practices, while medical knowledge will be systematically integrated and instantly shared.

Contact IBM

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Meet the experts

  • . Harry Reynolds
    Director of Health Industry Transformation for IBM Global Healthcare and Life Science Industry

  • . John Crawford
    IBM Healthcare Industry Leader, Europe

  • . Susan Noack
    Global Industry Leader, Healthcare & Life Sciences


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1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The power of prevention: reducing the health and economic burden of chronic disease.” 2003.

2 Baylor College of Medicine. "Promise in automated reasoning, hypothesis generation over complete medical literature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2014.