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● Big Data

Impacts of big data Potential is huge, so are challenges. By Bill Hamilton

T

he healthcare model is undergoing an inversion. Previously, facilities and other providers were incented to keep patients in treatment – more in-patient days translated to more revenue. T e

trend with new models, including accountable care organiza- tions (ACO), is to incent and compensate providers to keep patients healthy. Providers and payers are increasingly embracing mobile com- puting to improve outcomes. Patients are increasingly demand- ing information and real-time access to healthcare data so they understand their choices and can participate in decisions about their care. As a result of this focus on information, all healthcare constituents are impacted by big data, which supports analytics that predict how these players are likely to behave, encourage desirable behavior and minimize less desirable behavior. Big data is radically changing healthcare delivery and research. All of these factors are changing the way healthcare is delivered, while putting new burdens on IT departments to make the most of data to drive operational excellence. Big data and mobile computing have a natural synergy that will continue to evolve as those industries mature. Figure 1 shows mobile computing and big data working together: Mobile com- puting is used to both gather data and present information back to end-users, while big data is the foundation for the analysis used to improve outcomes and quality.

When many people think about mobile computing, they think of smartphones and tablets. While these technologies are certainly an important part of the mobile computing landscape,

Bill Hamilton is director, healthcare consulting, Cognizant.

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they also have sophisticated capabilities for generating useful data from applications, cameras and sensors (including GPS), as well as presenting information through sophisticated mechanisms to end-users. T e increased coverage and performance of cellular phone networks and the increasing availability of Wi-Fi networks keep mobile computing devices connected and ensure the data they capture is available when needed. But just because a device can be carried and allows easy access to information doesn’t completely defi ne mobile computing in today’s world. T e defi nition is limited; there is nothing particu- larly revolutionary or game changing about being able to access or track your claim history from your smartphone, and it’s not going to have much of an impact toward improving healthcare quality and outcomes. T e bar for mobile computing is continually rising together with peoples’ expectations; enterprising developers and companies deliver groundbreaking functionality as people get more accustomed to mobility. T e emerging Internet of T ings (IoT) connects physical objects to the Internet and uniquely identifi es them. As the IoT expands to include new types of devices – including wearable, implantable and swallowable computers – these devices will fi nd uses to monitor and improve health when combined with each other and with other patient information through big data. Some mobile computing examples: • Wearables are unobtrusively embedded into a user’s outfi t or accessories and used to recognize user state, activity, location and surrounding situation. Applications are quickly moving from research and novelty to practical ones, especially in healthcare where emerging uses include health monitoring and mobile treatment.

• Implantables are widely used in healthcare to treat chronic ailments such as diabetes, cardiac ailments and seizures. Small embedded computers collect physiological data and control therapies.

• Dissolvables are remote-controlled implantable devices that dissolve once their job is done. One application currently being studied has these devices delivering thermal therapy to help heal wounds.

Big data and mobile computing work together. 12 August 2013

• Proteus Digital Health got FDA approval in 2012 for their 1-mm2 ingestible sensor that is embedded into a pill as part of its Helius solution; it can relay information about your digestive tract, initially helping to manage compliance with medication regimens.

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com

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