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Transforming healthcare with contextually relevant data

April 18, 2014

There is a wealth of data in healthcare, but right now the potential to extract valuable insights is mired by the endemic challenges with data integration, patient privacy and culture. The urgent need to improve the health and wellness of our population, and to reduce healthcare costs, will fuel the convergence necessary to build a sustainable healthcare system.

Technology and data are the key enablers for healthcare transformation through increased collaboration for improved care and outcomes, as well as increased access through dynamic approaches for consumer engagement. The impact of data from social and mobile devices is predicted to impact healthcare, and organizations are taking action now.

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It has been predicted

Have you ever heard of the Internet of Things (IoT)? According to IDC, the IoT is a wired or wireless network connecting devices, or things, which is characterized by autonomous provisioning, management and monitoring. The Internet of Things can be as simple as finding your parked car or as complicated as juggling train schedules, in real time, in congested cities. 

In healthcare, this translates to healthcare monitoring applications that use machine-to-machine streaming data from combined mobile health applications and personal health and fitness monitoring devices. And that’s just one example. Public sector IoT revenue is forecast to show the largest growth rate at 11.3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 to 2017 and includes growth areas such as remote patient monitoring, home health, telemedicine, mhealth, public surveillance and more.

Combine this with open data, which is defined as open, widely available and in shareable formats. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, open data is projected to contribute $300 - $450M in economic value in healthcare annually in the U.S. alone.

Clients are taking action

Now consider IBM Watson Foundations and what this set of capabilities offers to help overcome data management challenges and benefit from innovative analytics. First, IBM Watson Foundations is not IBM Watson. It’s part of the Watson Family, providing the capabilities to tap into all relevant data, regardless of source or type, and delivering analytics everywhere securely, and with privacy baked in—all to enable the best decisions possible. Not all analytics initiatives will require the cognitive capabilities of Watson, but if and when organizations have a use case for it, they will be poised to leverage IBM Watson.

Many healthcare payers and providers are already using Watson Foundations: more than 600 hospitals and 40 percent of the home health market are getting insights into population health and individual risk factors. For example, Carilion Clinic is leveraging the IBM healthcare data model and PureData for Analytics to stratify their patients by risk factor in alignment with the Medicare Shared Savings Program. They recently incorporated IBM Advanced Care Insights to explore doctor’s notes and surfaced an additional 3,500 patients at risk for congestive heart failure that would’ve been missed. The next step for any healthcare organization extracting insights from their data is to integrate these analytics with a care coordination tool, perhaps IBM Curam to take action with these patients.

Payers are monetizing data by offering a service to providers to identify patients at risk for chronic illness. For example, the analytics division of a large national payer is using IBM PureData for Analytics in-database capabilities to run sophisticated predictive algorithms and, in turn, they are able to inform providers of patients that would benefit from additional care.

In another case, a national payer is leveraging PureData for Analytics, Infosphere MDM, Watson Explorer and now Infosphere BigInsights to understand the individual, their preferences, behaviors and needs. In one aspect of their overall effort to create the perfect customer service experience, this payer saved $11M in one year by reducing call handling times by three seconds. Another national payer increased plan enrollment by 23 percent by understanding where to selectively apply marketing investments for targeted outreach to consumers who were most likely to respond to enrollment and retention campaigns. In addition, this same health plan increased program utilization by 40 percent by targeting outreach based on preferences, behaviors and propensity to engage. 

Clearly, the opportunity to leverage big data & analytics in healthcare is outstanding. Many leading organizations are establishing their strategy and approach now, leveraging IBM Watson Foundations and the extended big data & analytics solutions IBM offers. Read more stories about how IBM clients are leveraging big data, social, mobile and cloud to transform their businesses.