A treatment for the data and analytics challenge in healthcare
The worlds of technology and medicine are moving ever-closer, with cancer-fighting nanorobots and even smart thermometers that can forecast when a patient will get the ‘flu. Yet smart healthcare – encompassing everything from patient-centred treatment, to regulatory compliance, to operations optimisation – is still elusive.
One of the biggest problems in achieving this future of smart healthcare is the twin challenge of data management and analytics. This was highlighted in Managed Healthcare Executive’s latest tech survey, which found that over a quarter of healthcare executives said their biggest challenge was turning data into actionable information.
This is an issue that affects healthcare providers around the globe. Poor data capture and integration – for example, with patient electronic health records (EHRs) – means that organisations are unable to effectively apply the latest analytics technologies to improve patient engagement, deliver coordinated and personalised healthcare plans, minimise clinical risks, improve their operations or lower costs.
The volatility of the healthcare market makes it overwhelmingly difficult for providers to achieve these benefits without applying the latest analytics technologies, which in turn need to have instant access to the full range of relevant data owned by the organisation. There is therefore a need for efficient, thoughtfully-integrated applications which connect the “three Ps” of healthcare: patient, provider, and payer.
Today’s complex healthcare challenges
Both privately- and publicly-funded healthcare providers face significant internal and external challenges that can only be overcome through the use of the most up-to-date analytics technologies, coupled with sophisticated data management technologies.
These include factors such as regulatory mandates; for example, the US Affordable Care Act and, for European healthcare providers, the impact of the GDPR. To stay on top of evolving regulations, healthcare organisations need to systematically address competing priorities and meet complex regulations within stringent timelines – and in a cost-effective, strategic manner.
Another important consideration is consumer engagement. Whether patients pay for their treatment or if it is delivered free at the point of delivery, people’s expectations are changing thanks to their experience of service in other areas, such as with retail and other consumer industries. Like businesses in these sectors, healthcare providers appreciate the urgency of undertaking digital transformation strategies that put the patient first, not least when patients have a choice of providers. Providers therefore need to ensure that they can provide personalised, consistent, and connected experiences across the patient lifecycle and across all channels.
The third major challenge is how to apply insights-driven decision-making and predictive analytics across the enterprise. With the right processes, analytics systems and governance across the organisation, healthcare providers can manage the huge volumes of information that flow across the organisation with speed and agility, and so improve consumer engagement, operational efficiencies, and drive profitable growth.
Finally, healthcare firms must consider how they will deliver ongoing operational efficiencies and costs which affect the bottom-line, as well as being a major factor in regulatory compliance.
- Amazon is working with AARP to develop new tools for ageing populations
- Google is moving from a “mobile first” world to an “AI first” one within health, CBInsights reports
- The medical technology industry is set to be worth over $460bn by 2020
A holistic solution
In the face of these challenges, healthcare providers need a technology solution that can deliver the required transformations across the value chain, including everything from sales and marketing, operations, care management, provider management, member management, IT, finance and compliance.
The key is for healthcare enterprises to adopt a technology solution that integrates data from multiple sources, including medical records, clinical data, pharma records, claim information, biometrics and even lifestyle data – and then applies the latest analytics technologies to this mass of information.
Competing on analytics using data-driven insights to formulate and implement strategies will be a major focus area for health plans and is expected to be one of the top investment areas for healthcare organisations.
A combined analytics and data management platform should be able to provide a 360-degree view of the patient, enabling healthcare providers and practitioners to better understand their patients’ medical history, diagnose more accurately, and create long-term treatment plans.
Such a system should incorporate accountable care, combining portals, dashboards and
a comprehensive analytical platform to support end-to-end accountable care organisation (ACO) management. Other factors include patient-centred functions such as end-to-end case management, including physician reimbursement (where applicable) and related performance analytics so that the provider can monitor factors such as costs and profitability.
Obviously, patient outcomes should be the primary consideration for any healthcare provider, but healthcare providers are businesses too; they owe it to their shareholders (or the public purse) to ensure that they optimise all aspects of the business. That’s why it is vital that any data management and analytics platform includes value-based benefits, which can model and predict factors such as return on investment.
It will also need to have robust capabilities to ensure compliance, including next-generation clinical and business intelligence capabilities that can crunch through huge volumes of data to analyse and detect risks. The system should also be able to identify trends and opportunities for minimising the impact of regulations such as ICD-10.
There is no reason why healthcare can’t work as smartly as the new drugs, treatments and technologies that are changing lives around the world. All it takes is the right blend of analytics and data technologies, and any provider can provide the best possible patient experience, while making sure their business is optimised and compliant far into the future
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”