The healthcare sector is one which is directly affected by the impact of technology. Despite this, the medical fraternity lacks the ability to understand and analyse the masses of information it produces. Smarter Healthcare is about making information more freely available to medical workers while spotting trends on a country wide scale.
A dose of insight for healthcare
According to the World Health Organisation (link resides outside of ibm.com), as many as one in ten patients in developed countries is actually harmed while receiving hospital care. The organisation also finds that additional hospitalisation, litigation costs, infections acquired in hospitals, lost income, disability and medical expenses have cost some countries between US$ 6 billion and US$ 29 billion a year (link resides outside of ibm.com).
Causes of these ailments include inefficiency and misaligned incentives. Money does not buy quality. There is too little patient involvement in our disease-centred world.
While healthcare organisations are amassing vast amounts of data, multiple versions of the truth producing errors in hospital, patient care and payment processes. Physicians have been on information overload for decades, contributing to the estimated 15% of diagnoses that are inaccurate or incomplete (Harvard Business Review, April, 2010). We don't understand why medicine works for one patient but not another. And growing shortages of nurses and medical specialists put more strain on broken systems.
But rather than focus on what is wrong with healthcare, let's imagine how information insights—coupled with clinical collaboration—can dramatically improve quality of care, patient safety and outcomes, while also improving the cost-effectiveness of care.
The smarter approach to healthcare is one that turns data into clinical and business insights for better outcomes. It instruments processes with those insights in real time for point of care decisions and productivity. And hospitals, medical centres and clinicians can work smarter (US) by bringing seamless, patient-centred, holistic and proactive approaches into their interactions with a patient, to deliver better care experiences that emphasise prevention and wellness.
Forward-thinking organisations are connecting their healthcare data, systems and processes to facilitate secure communications and information sharing. The IBM Institute for Business Insights provides proven return on investment for such iniatives (US). Taking this step can help establish the foundation for smarter healthcare systems that seamlessly deliver integrated care, centred on the patient.
A series of conversations for a smarter planet
Patients, doctors, journalists and IBMers talk about the pivotal role of electronic health records in creating safer, smarter, more interconnected healthcare systems.
The ability to deliver precise answers to support a medical diagnosis could go a long way toward addressing a key challenge facing physicians. Watson, the IBM computing system designed to play Jeopardy!, could help physicians to deliver more accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.
Essential steps to smarter healthcare
The healthcare industry now needs to perform on a more competitive, outcomes basis, shifting from fee for service to value based on quality and cost. Here are a few examples of organisations that are focusing on different aspects of quality and making real progress.
Efficiency and quality of care
Healthcare organisations can use analytics to uncover insights to identify and act on meaningful trends in clinical and quality indicators, making processes more efficient.
- Servicio Extremeño de Salud (SES) improved patient care with an integrated healthcare information management system.
- Antwerp Hospital Network in Belgium accelerated time to obtain financial results with a new information management solution based on IBM Cognos 8 BI.
- The University of North Carolina (US) unified multiple data sources in a robust data warehouse solution, making it possible to support a research agenda that includes cohort selection, quality improvement and disease management.
Whether at the bedtime, in the operating room or the emergency department, the time that care providers spend with patients is of the utmost value.
- Saint Michael's Medical Center (US) uses smart automatic tracking systems to help eliminate inefficiency, improve patient safety and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost and underutilised equipment. It also prevents caregivers from spending valuable patient care time looking for the equipment they need.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (US) developed SmartRoom, a workflow optimisation system that leverages clinical intelligence to guide nursing decisions and activities.
Use analytics to predict outcomes
Correlating and analysing information including patient demographics, diagnostic information and clinical data can help to identify and develop more effective treatments, leading to more personalised care.
- Centerstone Research Institute (US) (PDF, 1.03MB), a large American mental health institute, improved patient outcomes and contained costs by deploying a data mining solution built on IBM SPSS Statistics and IBM SPSS Modeler software that analyses multivariable patient treatment information to improve predictions of patient outcomes and help clinicians optimise treatments.
Improve care for patients with chronic disease
According to the World Health Organisation (link resides outside of ibm.com), heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths.
- During the long running chronic disease management process, Peking University People's Hospital (US) helps patients and clinicians clearly understand what clinical activities took place in the past, what actions should be taken at the point of care, and the next steps to take.
- Reports and proactive alerts for disease management can help physicians to better serve the needs of their patients and improve outcomes.
Use genetic insights to help diagnose hereditary disease
Incorporating individualised patient information into analyses using advanced analytics can help to determine more effective treatments.
- Italy's Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute (US) sought stronger tools to study the genetic underpinnings of rare hereditary bone diseases. With IBM, they developed a first-of-a-kind pedigree analytics platform that integrates genomic data, medical images and family history into a powerful research tool.