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Nov 20 2013   12:42PM GMT

Analytics: One of many ways information can improve patient outcomes

Posted by: adelvecchio
ACO, Big data, healthcare analytics, Patient engagement

1384283401_Headshot_Felipe_Brito (2)Guest post by Felipe Brito, business director, CI&T

So much has been written and said lately about how big the challenge of sustaining the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be. In this article, I will focus on how the latest technologies — including cloud and mobile — are being used to overcome some longstanding healthcare hurdles, explore the great new programs being established, and take a look at the innovative initiatives that are becoming mainstream in the healthcare space.

The patient comes first

I recently attended a few events and was glad to hear speakers mention one topic over and over: patient centricity. The healthcare community now understands that the patient is core to any strategy. Healthcare programs should strive to comprehend the patient reality in order to achieve better patient outcomes.   The one size fits all approach is simply not adequate. Patients are eager for information and to be treated as people, not diseases.

We are seeing myriad cases in the life science industry where personalized experiences are enhancing the relationship between patients and providers. There are companies focused on analyzing thousands of healthcare professionals and patients’ interactions between healthcare professionals and patients to understand patient behavior and reduce prescription abandonment. Patient portals and prevention programs are investing in preventative care, not treatment of illnesses. Communities of patients and physicians are collaborating to increase health literacy, curate adequate content and improve overall wellbeing. Niche communities and bloggers are engaging online through message boards, where they have discussions around specific conditions. These communities can reduce misconceptions around certain conditions and they create a sense of belonging for those afflicted with the condition.

These enhanced dialogues drive improved patient adherence to recommended treatments. Heart and diabetes patients can have their adherence increased by more than 20% when reminded by systems and applications, a study shows. There are online programs that support smokers with customized protocols in their effort to quit. Health and wellness programs with nutrition advice, meal planning, and exercise routines are redirecting behavior towards healthier lives. This improvement in health will translate to reduce spending on medical treatment. According to the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, lack of medical adherence leads to 125,000 deaths per year, an estimated $100 billion annually in unnecessary hospital readmissions and accounts for more than 33% of all medical-related hospital admittance.

The impact of big data and analytics

It is fascinating to witness the benefits technology is bringing to healthcare. A plethora of sensors can provide insights and data about our critical bodily functions.  Genomics is becoming a reality in clinical trials, which indicates that personalized medicine will soon be within reach. Big data helps doctors fight cancer, and identify the doctors other doctors trust the most. Analytics enables continuous learning across complex networks. Contextual platforms simplify the user experience by providing content to providers’ and patients’ various devices.

By using information gathered in the cloud, companies can now build predictive models that help target messages to patients in need. Gamification is another creative concept that has been used to help people with severe burns, fight dyslexia, and to aid teens keep up with treatments such as chemotherapy. The latest hype seems to be wearable technology. Companies such as Emotiv, and Google with Google Glass, are making great strides and are poised to bring imaginative new products to reality in the coming years.

Along with this patient data revolution, there are also changes being made to benefit the quality and efficiency of care. The accountable care organization (ACO) model was established with the goal of fostering clinical excellence by tying provider reimbursements to quality metrics and reducing the overall cost of care.  ACOs are network of providers, composed mostly of hospitals, physicians and healthcare professionals, payers (Medicare, private or employee-purchased insurance) and the patients themselves.

ACOs rely on effective use of data and metrics to report current performance and ensure that continued improvements will be achieved. Electronic health records (EHRs) are a key component of this strategy. EHRs contain the complete health information of patients, including medical history and personal statistics. EHRs improve diagnostics and patient outcomes. Part of the value of EHRs is they’re available inside secure networks so healthcare professionals can access up-to-date information about patients. There is no time lost dealing with clerical items, silos, or outdated information.

Privacy and confidentiality in the cloud

The increased use of big data and analytics generates valuable insights, but it also raises privacy and confidentiality concerns. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established rules for access, authentication, storage and auditing, and transmission of EHRs. Companies recognize that interoperable healthcare data and cloud services will improve the efficiency and efficacy of care. However, it can be challenging to deploy these strategies while maintaining HIPAA compliance. Some care facilities are implementing internal clouds; some are storing personally identifiable information in internal servers and using the cloud to process non-identifiable information. The takeaway is the healthcare industry will continue to find creative ways to be compliant and provide value to patients, physicians and health care professionals.

The future of technology and healthcare

It’s great to work where technology and healthcare meet. Much has been accomplished in the field of healthcare technology and we can only imagine what the future will bring.

I believe information will be a key component of the innovations to come. Companies that make better sense of data and add a layer of intelligence to their businesses will thrive. Many useful data tools are already available. Marketers and technologists that don’t have improving their data analysis as a key initiative in their agenda will deeply regret it — and will pay a price they may not be able to afford. Personalized and predictive solutions will be the future of patient-centric care, and will lead to making patients’ lives better.

Felipe Brito has been with Ci&T since 2000, when he joined the company’s internship program. Since joining the company, Brito has taken on increasing leadership positions and currently serves as a business director and is responsible for all of Ci&T’s business in the Northeastern United States. Supporting Ci&T’s internationalization goals, Felipe leads fast growing global engagements and oversees 350+ people in long-term partnerships with Fortune 500 clients. Brito has extensive experience working in the consumer packaged goods, financial and life science sectors. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Universidade Estadual de Campinas and two MBAs from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and Babson College.

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