October 20, 2016 | Written by: Dr. Anthony Tang
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Across Canada, millions of people live with heart rhythm disturbances, otherwise known as arrhythmias. Some of the most common arrhythmias include atrial fibrillation (AF), electrical disturbances of the upper heart chambers; syncope, which is the sudden loss of consciousness; and, sudden cardiac death – all of which dramatically and negatively affects our citizens’ quality of life.
The costs associated with these three conditions alone are staggering. And when the indirect costs, such as the loss of productivity of the patients and their caregivers, are included, the economic burden of these three arrhythmia-related conditions is well over $10 billion per year in Canada.
But treating and investigating arrhythmias generates a remarkable amount of data. The sheer volume of complex big data in healthcare research is almost overwhelming. Researchers spend hours simply attempting to sift through the data.
By the Numbers:
- 40,000 – The number of Canadians who suffer sudden cardiac deaths per year.
- 350,000 – The number of citizens affected by atrial fibrillation; the direct cost of care for AF patients is approximately $5,000 annually per patient, driven primarily by repeated emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
- 140,000 – The number of Canadians affected by syncope who will visit the hospital with fainting spells annually; and as many as 10-20% of these patients will be admitted and undergo investigations, accounting for $127 million per year – despite the fact that the majority of these patients are at low risk of major adverse events.
To address this issue, IBM and the Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada (CANet), are joining forces to launch Heart-SIGN (System for Information Gathering and Networking), a cloud-based analytics platform to manage, monitor, store, and correlate data generated from all CANet research projects.
By incorporating IBM BigInsights on Cloud and Watson Analytics, Heart-SIGN will act as a data resource for arrhythmia research and clinical practice, and provide a platform for research-based and clinical initiatives to identify specific needs, track patients through the system, and measure outcomes.
Heart-SIGN will be equipped with the latest in advanced analytical software and tools. It will offer an unprecedented level of information and analytical capability that will enable researchers to harness the vast information available and, within minutes, uncover answers that previously might have taken years to discover.
This partnership between IBM and CANet is an exciting and groundbreaking development in the world of cardiac research. We look forward to exploring the endless possibilities that will soon be available at our fingertips.