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A Healthier You with Big Data

What if you had a “virtual doctor” who was available at any time—24x7—to give you a quick checkup, dispense friendly health advice, and even alert you to possible health problems before they become serious? What if your parents or grandparents got a gentle daily reminder to take their medication, so they would never have to worry about missing a dose? What if you could walk into any emergency room in the country and receive exactly the care you need because the hospital has instant access to all your medical records? While much of this may seem futuristic, it will become reality in a future not that far away.

Big Data and analytics are transforming healthcare as we know it. Let me share a few examples:

1. Patient care

Many healthcare providers are stretched to capacity, and can’t always follow up with patients to see how they’re doing and make sure they are following medical advice. Today, we are beginning to see pills with tiny ingestible sensors that send a message to your doctor or to a loved one to confirm that you have taken the pill—giving peace of mind to worried children of elderly parents, or anyone who needs to take medication at a specified time. In the future, these sensors will likely also be able to report whether the medicine results in the right impact, and to suggest a change of dose or even a different medication, if that is appropriate.

A high-risk pregnancy is a constant source of worry for many women. In the near future, small electronic “tattoos” will provide nonstop fetal monitoring through a sticker worn right on the skin. Wireless communications capabilities will send vital signs directly to the cloud, where Big Data and analytics capabilities can evaluate the information and send appropriate alerts to the mother and her doctor.

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Big Data: Coming Soon to Your Doctor’s Examining Room – Part 1

March 22, 2012 at 6:42 am PST

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.

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