Data in Healthcare

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As the healthcare industry evolves, data and information of patients is changing the dynamics of how health is being monitored.

The healthcare industry is on the cusp of a data revolution. While the last few decades were spent investing in imaging, big machines, instruments and devices, the next few will be spent on personalising healthcare with data to achieve exponentially better results which much less risk and guesswork.

Data Collection

Wearables are going to be the main source of data in the future. These days we see so many fitness trackers, which track data of physical activity and workouts. They can provide valuable data to predict or monitor a person’s health. Soon we will have doctors prescribing medical-grade trackers that can be used by recovering patients to monitor their vitals. Pawan Gupta, Co-Founder, Curofy avers, “we are seeing a flurry of wearables which are capturing data and hundreds of vitals ranging from heartbeat to physical activity to sleep tracking. And all of this data is being captured real-time and uploaded to cloud. This will turn out to be a huge boost to data-driven healthcare.” The healthcare IT sector has a strong mandate to create electronic medical records and patient management software that charts these and other elements from patient intake to discharge. “Going wireless and paperless has allowed IT developers to build systems where electronic surveys and intake forms are sent to patients, progress surveys during treatment, and satisfaction and clinical outcome surveys at discharge. Today DNA analysis can also provide a patient with detailed instructions to lead a life in harmony with his/her genetic predisposition and avoid predisposing disease factors.  All of this data is then collected and easily chronicled for key measures and clinical assumptions,” says Dr. Vikas Puri, President & Co-Founder, Intelligent Health Group, a franchise of health clinics with locations in Canada and India.

Prevention Matters

The good thing about data collection is that it can be standardised and shared on the cloud with other applications. For example, sleep Apnea is a disease which affects a large population but mostly goes unnoticed. The sleep tracking on your fitness trackers can capture the early signs of sleep apnea and alert you. Similarly, erratic heartbeats, breathing patterns etc. can all contribute to providing data to detect early signs of many lifestyle related ailments. Structured data for health records and medical history do not exist at large-scale today. Labeled data does not exist for imaging data, diagnostic reports and medical literature. “So the challenge is creating a data funnel (that collects labeled data in structure that we can consume ) for health records and medical history and employing the right machine learning techniques for the rest, to extract relevant information from unstructured content (images, articles),” says Ajit Narayanan, CTO, mfine. Ethnography is a model of medicine currently prevailing in Europe, which is used to determine the patient’s journey to the point of treatment and further. “Many of the healthcare consulting companies are using mobile applications for this model. The data collected from patients is quantified and analyzed, which enables companies to evaluate the patient’s journey with the prescribed course of medicine. Another type of data that is playing a key role in the changing healthcare industry is related to patient feedback service. The modern hospitals need to improvise both the clinical aspects and the Hospitality aspects, and the feedback from patients helps in analyzing these aspects in order to take corrective measures,” says Ayush Mishra, Co-Founder, Tattvan E-Clinic.

Tech Talk

Machine learning and AI algorithms can then run over these structured data which helps in reasoning and inferences. Using this information, it is possible not only to make the diagnosis process simpler and error free for doctors but also start to make preventive suggestions. “The newer algorithm based analytics go into details of analysis genetic structures and analyzing behavior of each gene to different medications, treatment and thereby helping us to understand the how a patient will behave for a specific treatment modality and in turn helps us to pick right treatment plan which gives best outcomes for them,” says Dr. Chandrika Kambam, Vice President- Clinical Services, Columbia Asia Hospital India. The adoption of new-age technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) has greatly personalized the larger part of patient care and monitoring of treatment regimen. “The large-scale adoption of technological tools can help in scheduling patient visits to hospitals, creating tailored communications for managing medicine schedules and exercise routines and maintaining personal health databases of patients which can help in managing chronic health conditions. The broader aim of healthcare management systems is to ensure optimum health and reduced morbidity for patients,” says Nivesh Khandelwal, Founder and CEO, LetsMD. With AI and blockchain coming in, it is possible for health insurers to track data of customer’s health to be able to guide customers towards better well-being.

Data Analytics

Data analytics is playing a vital role in the progress of healthcare practices. It has swiftly grown as a field and has recently been implemented to support the process of care delivery, diagnosis and disease assessment. “The trend of rapid digitization has stemmed through the evolution of healthcare and enhanced the potential for quality healthcare delivery at a reduced cost. Digitization of data has expanded the range of medical and healthcare functions extensively. Apart from this, the rise in digitization of data analytics has enabled effective use of accumulated data supporting organizations ranging from physician offices and multi provider groups to large specialty hospital networks,” says Dr. GSK Velu, Chairman & Managing Director – Trivitron Healthcare Group, Chairman – Neuberg Diagnostics. This would play a major role in detection of diseases in the early stages, managing specific individual and population’s health; detect healthcare frauds quickly and effectively.

Patient Personalization

Patient personalization is important and the usage of patient and Electronic Health Records support in personalized healthcare solutions. If we can store and access health records basis individuals, this will help healthcare providers with efficient healthcare delivery methods. “Today health records are still not in complete use. We should have Healthcare records being used more in common. Personalised Healthcare solutions are the future. The challenge will be to ensure patient personalization is effective. For the same the Healthcare services should be like an ecosystem with different solutions being available to ensure Patients get the right solutions at the right time,” says Rahul Paith, COO, DocOnline. Ashish Mehrotra, MD & CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance adds, “to understand the customers better and provide them the best healthcare services, healthcare companies are adopting the best technology practices. Customers are hence served with the best possible treatments and preventive measures enabling the healthcare companies to connect better and care better.” Say cheers to good health.

Data Checklist

  • Health Records: Chief complaints, diagnosis, treatment plans.
  • Medical history: Previous illnesses, surgical history, lifestyle.
  • Imaging Data: X-Rays, Ultrasound, MRI, CAT Scans.
  • Diagnostic reports: What parameters are normal, off the charts
  • Medical Literature: Wealth of data from research. Can be hardly assimilated by humans in its breadth.

This story first appeared in Spicejet’s Spice Route magazine’s August 2018 issue here: 

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