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Building better healthcare outcomes on solid infrastructure and analytics

Program Director, IBM Systems Big Data and Analytics Portfolio Marketing, IBM

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples or no apples, we all have been to a doctor’s office before—either for a small cold we just can’t get rid of, a routine checkup or to see a close friend or relative go through more serious treatments such as chemo. Isn’t is fascinating the way everything comes together to provide the care a patient needs? From the front office check-in to verify insurance, medical data and patient records to the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment, the process is based on years of experience. And it has evolved into a process with some highly sophisticated machinery and computing infrastructure to process years of structured (electronic health records) and unstructured data (individual EMRs, lab and imaging systems, physician notes and claims).

A new life

The impact of modern medicine really sunk in when I went into labor. Every time I had contractions, my unborn baby’s heart rate would drop. After a certain point, the fetal heart rate monitor started beeping so loudly and frequently that I had to be rushed into a C-section. I just had to put my trust in my gynecologist’s hands and hope for a new life to enter the world without any complications.

That’s when it dawned on me what technology can do to improve prevention of fatalities, predict outcomes, improve patient experience and much more. Our generation—luckily for us—is seeing an unprecedented amount of innovation. We are also seeing shifting industry trends fueled by demands on growth, staying competitive and expectations on better and faster insight when we need it, where we need it and how we need it.

The changing face of healthcare

Over the past few years IBM has seen what a difference predictive and prescriptive analytics can make toward the overall health and wellness of an individual. IBM has completed over 3,000 successful healthcare transformation initiatives, ranging from small hospitals to national healthcare projects.

Cognitive computing, ushered in by IBM Watson, provides confidence-weighted outcomes with data transparency, systematic learning and natural language processing. And IBM just announced Watson Health, which draws on collaborative relationships between IBM and leaders across the healthcare ecosystem. It builds on IBM’s strengths in cognitive computing, analytics, security and cloud to improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing new insights from the massive amount of personal health data created daily.

IT infrastructure matters

Time is of the essence. Even the most advanced analytics software in the world doesn’t do any good if gaining insight takes forever. Having the right infrastructure in place enables getting the most from big data and analytics in real time. In it’s 2015 predictions, IDC reports that as analytics solutions become more mission critical, hospitals need to rely on a solid, integrated and scalable Third Platform for IT infrastructure technology. It consists of cloud and mobile computing, big data and analytics, and social tools to ensure accurate and timely collection and analysis of data and the appropriate delivery of insights in the workflows to inform end users' decisions. Consider several examples:

Memorial Hermann Health System was able to cut average response times for its medical records database by more than 99 percent for fast treatment decisions by migrating to IBM FlashSystem. “Deploying high-performance flash storage has taken our analytics capabilities to a new level, so we can now spot signs indicative of certain ailments before they are published.” — Dr. Robert Murphy, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Memorial Hermann Health System

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee saw astounding results when its analytical workloads took seconds to run versus hours, achieving a 43 times speed increase on IBM Power 7 Systems and IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration.

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