Wherever you go and whatever you do in the 21st century, you generate a data trail. Your credit and debit cards, mobile phone, laptop computer, tablet — not to mention retailers, banks, hospitals, hotel systems, and activity on social networks, blogs, and email — all generate data.
Yet, we are currently connecting less than 1 percent of the things, people, and machines that could be online, communicating and collaborating. As we create the Internet of Everything (IoE), the amount of data will rise exponentially, created by your car, clothes, medicines, food, e-books, and presence on video surveillance systems.
The mountain of data collected about people and things has led to a growing industry dealing with high-volume, high-variety, high-velocity, virtual data sets (“the 4Vs”, according to Gartner) — often called “Big Data.” The growth of Big Data is an inevitable reality of a digitally connected world.
Many articles and blogs focus on the growth of data analytics. But can we move from analyzing past events to changing events as they happen, focusing on the “high velocity” element of Big Data — especially in the provision of health and care where time and circumstance have a huge impact on quality and cost? Well, the next wave of health information and communication solutions is focusing already on how high-velocity data can be used in real or near-real time to improve public health, avoid unnecessary admissions, and raise the speed and quality of patient journeys through care.
Dynamic Care — Changing the Course of Events
As the inexorable rise of the Internet of Everything connects more “things” — not only as data feeds, but with real-time information on their location, speed, status (“busy”, “occupied”), and many other parameters — incredible changes become possible. This dynamic data is particularly useful in healthcare, where the patient experience can be transformed. To many managers in healthcare, “patient experience” refers to surveys — captured long after the consultation is over, or the treatment complete — that are analyzed once or twice per year to assess management and clinical performance. Yet to patients, patient experience is immediate and has huge psychological and physical impact.
Using dynamic, high-velocity information, we can now change patient experience into a real-time concept, making better decisions more quickly.
For instance, some innovative doctors in primary care (for example, Dr. Amir Hannan via his practice’s website) are providing patients secure access to their records, accompanied by advice on the tests and results. If the tests are negative, the patient can then decide whether he or she needs a follow-up appointment — and whether to wait or seek earlier advice and treatment. Intriguingly, this potentially reverses a metric for success — instead of measuring how many patients keep their appointments, Dr. Hannan points out that a new metric could be to maximize the number of cancellations!
However, Dynamic Care is not just about interfacing with the patient faster and more pervasively. In Nottingham University Hospital, the Hospital at Night program is managed using Nervecentre to capture requests accurately from nurses on the wards, quickly find and send the work to an appropriate doctor, confirm that he or she owns the task, and then track its progress via Wi-Fi and mobile phones. The result? Many fewer incidents after hours, 8,000 hours given back to care, and an economic payback in less than four months.
Dynamic care is appearing in other contexts, too. GPS-connected asthma inhalers allow real-time data to be collected, cross-referenced, and used to identify hotspots of environmental problems for patients. And in the world of pharmacies, organizations like Aegate are starting to use dynamic data to detect counterfeit drugs at the point of dispensation, before the patient might be put in danger.
We are just at the start – as mobile health technology becomes more pervasive through the use of smart pills, smart dispensers and apps on phones, and as telehealth becomes the default mode of monitoring patients and delivering care, the opportunities for real-time interventions will rise.