Shared data will transform healthcare
When a patient with pneumonia arrives to a hospital, current guidelines state that he should be given antibiotics within four hours of arrival.
“There was this US hospital that was doing a terrible work in giving patients antibiotics within four hours,” says Marty Kohn, who previously worked as Chief Medical Scientist at IBM Research, and has recently joined Jointly Health, a remote patient monitoring company. “Then they started giving antibiotics to any patient with a cold and fever at triage. They did very well in the performance tables, but were giving antibiotics unnecessarily to a lot of patients.” The corollary? With data, size doesn’t matter — what matters is whether the data is informative.
Kohn was speaking as part of a panel session at the first Founders Forum Healthtech, an event which took place in London on Friday 13 June, gathering about 130 investors, entrepreneurs and innovators in healthcare. The recurrent theme was data.
“When I was flying from the US to London I started thinking about the hundreds of sensors that constantly monitor the engines of an airplane,” says Jack Kreindler, founder of the Centre for Health and Human Performance, co-founder of Jointly Health and one of the hosts of the event. “In comparison, every person does a medical check-up typically once every 30 years. What kind of technologies will we need to implement data-driven healthcare?”
“We need to make medicine predictive,” said Iya Khalil, co-founder of Gene Network Science. Khalil was part of a panel at the first Founders Forum Healthtech that took place in London this Friday. “A lot of the times, doctors are just guessing. Where are the algorithms that tell me what the best treatment is?” Kohn’s Jointly Health, for instance, is trying to optimise health outcomes by combining home monitoring data and longitudinal data on scientific literature. “In the scientific literature, coronary disease and asthma, I will find lots of studies about, say, coronary disease and asthma, but very little about patients with both. When you have data about lots of patients, we can define a cohort with both conditions and create new evidence that will optimise their health.”
It’s not just about new data. There’s valuable data that is already available but it’s neglected by physicians. An example is the environment. “70 percent of your health has nothing to do with your genetics or personal profile. It has to do with context,” says Bill Davenhall, Senior Health Advisor at ESRI. “We’re producing reports that give local information like proximity to toxic sources. The practical implication of this is that you also make a smarter partnership with your physician.”
Also present at the event was the secretary of state for Health, Jeremy Hunt. Hunt announced that patients in England will soon be able to access their data online. “In countries where this happens, patients often correct mistakes because a lot of the information is wrongly annotated. Five percent deaths in health are avoidable. That’s a jumbo jet crashing out of sky every fortnight. We will stop that by sharing data, that’s what the aviation industry did.”
Hunt also announced the government will soon start publishing a safety league table for every hospital to create behaviour change, making the UK the first country to do so. Towards the end of the year, the government will also be taking surgeons and physicians’ data and evaluating their performance. “Surprisingly, it’s something that the medical profession has accepted well,” he said.
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Wired, Shared data will transform healthcare [ Joao Medeiros | 14 June 2014].