A prescription of intelligence for healthcare
In a major hospital, stents that cost $25,000 apiece disappear regularly. In a clinic, a patient is given the same blood test again and again—because up-to-date medical records aren't at hand. And though reports conflict, one study finds an average of 195,000 deaths are caused by preventable medical errors.
These are just a few of the reasons why healthcare costs are ballooning. In some countries, those costs are growing nearly twice as fast as inflation.
Healthcare has a diagnosis for its ailments: inefficiency. But the cure isn't so straightforward. While organizations are becoming information-rich, they remain knowledge-poor, without the tools to better integrate information across their clinical, operations, research and financial systems. But rather than focus on what is wrong with healthcare, it might be more productive—and much healthier—to imagine how we might make a smarter healthcare system.
The smarter approach to healthcare is one that uses information to create real insight into patient care and organizational performance. Healthcare providers, researchers and directors can work smarter by creating comprehensive, holistic views of patient data. They can get real time visibility into how their operations are running. And they can use wider ranging sample data to achieve more medical breakthroughs.
The innovators are tearing down silos so they can connect doctors, patients and insurers to share information seamlessly and securely. That means that a smarter healthcare system is optimized around the patient to increase efficiency, reduce errors, achieve better quality outcomes and save more lives.
Patient Centered Medical Home
Interest in the Medical Home model of primary healthcare is building in the United States and has caught on globally as well.
Notably, physicians, healthcare leaders, insurers, legislators, large companies and other stakeholders are focused on the fact that the Medical Home model of care improves quality and patient satisfaction and contributes to lower overall healthcare costs.
IBM issued a point of view on the topic: Patient Centered Medical Home: What, Why and How? Download the paper and also watch this video, in which experts discuss how IT tools support better, smarter outcomes in this primary care model.
By 2010, 30% of the data stored on the world's computers will be medical images. The trouble is, all of that information is trapped, disconnected. Let's make it smart.
Emergency rooms are extremely stressful and unpredictable places. Toronto East General Hospital recently introduced a wireless communication device called the Vocera communicator, implemented with IBM. It allows workers to communicate with security by simply double-tapping the device. Users can also control the device with naturally spoken commands. Vocera has reduced response time to "Code White" alarms for security incidents from two and half minutes to 59 seconds. The solution also cuts down phone tag, overhead paging and the need to physically search for a person, making it easier for staff to communicate quickly, securely and efficiently throughout the hospital.
For the 800-bed Kingston General Hospital in Ontario, Vocera is the "must have" communications tool that nurses found helped to reduce by 25% the time they spent on phone calls, paging and tracking people down, while increasing the time spent on direct patient care.
At the University of North Carolina Health System (UNC), delivering better treatment to patients and improving the standard of care are top priority. To do this more efficiently, UNC needed access to data from various repositories to support a research agenda that includes cohort selection, quality improvement and disease management.
The medical center now uses a robust data warehouse solution that unifies multiple sources, making it possible to quickly and easily access data and transforms it into actionable information. Breaking down the silos allows new lines of inquiry from broader samples of patient data, so diagnosis and treatment decisions happen faster and are evidence-based.
What else might we expect from smarter healthcare solutions?
Information isn't stranded on islands
Smarter healthcare is interconnected. Like Spain's Servicio Extremeño de Salud (SES), where each location had its own patient records system. The organization took steps to create a global platform, connecting almost 13,000 professionals with a scheduling system that manages nine million outpatient visits a year.
Analytics boost accuracy
Preventing deadly ruptures of the blood vessels in the brain is the aim of a Mayo Clinic project to help radiologists detect aneurysms with far greater speed and accuracy. The new method integrates medical knowledge and analytics in powerful algorithms that pinpoint potential problem areas within medical images and flag them based on the probability of abnormality. The algorithms developed by the Mayo Clinic and IBM collaboration, the Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center, have proven a 95 percent accuracy rate in detecting aneurysms, compared with 70 percent for manual interpretation.
A smarter healthcare system: its time has come
IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano addressed an audience at Cleveland Clinic to discuss the problems with healthcare in America from a systems viewpoint and how people on a smarter planet could benefit from smarter healthcare.