The NC UCS User Group is a hit! The Users have spoken and with the help of some great speakers, we have successfully completed 2 NC User Group meetings for this quarter. We had very good turnout in both Greensboro and RTP.
In part 1 of my blog I proposed that the cloud is succeeding in enabling new healthcare models where the original electronic medical records (EMRs) vision stalled. The reason is that the cloud has the scale to manage and analyze very large data sets—so-called big data.
Big data and the new analysis tools it demands are changing the game for healthcare. They reveal insights about outcomes across very large reservoirs of patient information that previously weren’t possible to analyze, at least not in real time.
The vision is giving your doctors an evidence-based clinical tool that factors in your entire history, collected from multiple independent sources. These might include lab results, previous physician input, hospital data, and retrospective claims history. Placing this kind of tool in a physician’s hands at the moment of need is game-changing.
Evidence-Based Clinical Tools in the Cloud
That’s what we do at CareCore. The foundation of our service is evidence-based medicine sourced from panels of leading physicians in their fields. We’ve added workflows to support the physician in collecting patient information that big-data analysis has shown to influence outcomes.
Consider a physician is treating a cardiac patient. Not long ago, the physician had to rely solely his or her own historical training and knowledge, and whatever research a busy practice allowed. Today, that same physician can access real-time data on thousands of similar cardiologists treating tens of thousands of similar patients, and can review various appropriate courses of treatment in the context of efficacy for other patients like the one sitting in the exam room right now.
Related blog: Coming Soon to Your Doctor’s Examining Room by William Moore, CTO of CareCore National
“It’s a boy!!!” my friend Kim told me just minutes after her 18 week ultrasound. Even though we were texting I could tell her excitement was restrained despite the exclamation points. Later that day she shared “he’s healthy but…[big inhale]…he has a cleft lip [even bigger exhale]”
This unexpected information meant more tests for her and her unborn son, Mason. It meant a series of surgeries starting at 6 months until age 5. It brought a lot of anxiety to Kim’s entire family.
In addition, the diagnosis raised a lot of questions such as, “Will Mason be okay? How will my family support him and cope with our baby having surgery? Will my insurance cover all that is needed to treat his cleft lip? Will his treatment be personalized? Will I…will he…be subjected to unnecessary tests? Will there be a lot of tests? Can I trust that his healthcare team is up to date on all the latest treatments? Will there be a team of healthcare experts to support us as Mason recovers from each surgery?”
Kim had a lot to prepare for and wanted to feel confident about Mason’s healthcare team. She wanted to know that the most experienced doctors would provide the best care possible based on leading industry practices. What she wanted most was peace of mind that her son would be ok.
Improving the outcomes of patients like Mason while simultaneously alleviating the burden on physicians is no easy task. It takes a bold and innovative company to tackle such a challenge, one who is at the forefront of the healthcare industry and can envision improved care, better outcomes, and healthier people.
CareCore National is such a company. The company currently has contracts with more than 25 health plans working with 600,000 physicians providing care to 68.8 million people.
Many Big Data related innovations have been developed by Web 2.0 companies, resulting in a growing collection of open source technologies that dramatically change the culture of collaborative software development and the scale and economics of hardware infrastructure. These technologies enable data storage, management and analysis in ways that were not possible before with traditional technologies such as relational database management systems, in a cost-effective manner.
NoSQL is one such technology that has emerged as an increasingly important part of big data trends for applications that demand large volumes of simple reads and updates against very large datasets (Hadoop is the other innovation, a generic processing framework designed to execute “read only” queries and batch jobs against massive datasets). NoSQL is often characterized by what it is not, and definitions vary. It can be Not Only SQL-based or simply Not a SQL-based relational database management system. NoSQL databases form a broad class of non-relational database management systems that are evolving rapidly, and several solutions are emerging with highly variable feature sets and few standards.
While these technologies are attractive from the standpoint of the innovations they can bring, not all products meet enterprise requirements. Many organizations require robust, commercially supported solutions for rapid deployments and the ability to integrate such solutions in to existing enterprise applications infrastructure.
To address these needs, Cisco and Oracle are the first vendors collaborating to deliver enterprise-class NoSQL solutions. Exceptional performance, scalability, availability and manageability are made possible by the combination of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Oracle NoSQL Database. Together, this powerful solution provides a platform for the quick deployment along with predictable throughput and latency for most demanding applications.
We invited William Moore, CTO at CareCore National to share his thoughts on how cloud and big data are impacting the healthcare industry. Read related blog, “It’s a Boy!”
Now that the initial frenzy of the cloud revolution is settling, solid applications are providing a glimpse of the potential of cloud computing to change daily life for the better. In my industry, healthcare, the cloud is not simply transforming existing processes, but actually enabling new decision-making models that simply weren’t possible before.
Why Electronic Medical Records Fell Short
The healthcare industry earlier tried for transformation with electronic medical records (EMRs). The original notion was that individual physician practices could justify the investment in servers, software, and maintenance based on efficiency gains. Then we’d bubble up the health records data from multiple organizations and it would be a Shangri La moment for chronic disease models, coordinated care, care duplication, and more.
But reality fell short of the mark. Many physicians’ offices are really small business at heart. They were hard pressed to afford EMR infrastructure and all that went with it. Efficiency gains are minuscule at best if you simply print out patient charts each morning, place them on that same old clipboard, mark them up with a ballpoint pen, and then have the office manager enter the new information into the EMR system to print out next time.
Without a critical mass of EMR infrastructure, developers lacked the incentive to create standards and unifying protocols. And the lack of protocols prevented meaningful sharing of data.
Even if some of your healthcare providers do use EMRs, it’s rare that all of your providers can see yours. Connecting EMRs among more than a handful of physician practices is not technically feasible, nor is it appropriate.