Sun | Jun 16, 2019

Health + Tech | Predictive analytics to improve healthcare planning

Published:Sunday | July 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Halsall
Dr Carl Bruce (third right), medical chief of staff at the University Hospital of the West Indies, shows the hospital’s new information management system to health and IT specialists, (from left) Mark Thwaites, Dr Christopher Tufton, Professor Archibald McDonald, Kevin Allen, Claudette James, Doug Halsall, and James Moss-Solomon.
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Health Technology provides a means of accessing various data that can be leveraged to improve population health and wellness and save resources that would have been used for treatment and care.

Data is powerful and can help with a number of issues if we know how, and are willing to, use it. The digitisation of the healthcare sector will lead to that sector becoming data rich.

I recently did an article in which I described data as the new oil because of the tremendous value. Once we mine that data, smart technology and artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in most health information management systems (HIMS) can then do meaningful analyses and determine trends.

This is the core of predictive analytics which uses several data-retrieval methods; the data is then analysed by AI to show trends and make meaningful predictions about the future.

The key with this tool is to turn the knowledge gained into information for action. To do otherwise would not be using the health technology to its fullest potential and would be missing out on value-added information which could improve overall population health.

The available health technology - including those in Jamaica - can provide data analytics at the drop of a hat. Every notation and information provided to the patient's electronic medical records (EMR) can be valuable data for predictive analytics and action.

The HIMS being implemented at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) can generate hundreds of real-time reports. These can tell from what is the most-used drug and identify if, for example, there is an addiction problem or whether we are having an outbreak of an illness.

If we then use this information to prepare and craft meaningful interventions, then we would be using predictive analytics the way we should. These are just the simplified examples of what we can achieve with the tool.

If we look at the bigger picture, we can carve out an objective for healthcare for 10 years or more and act on this data to achieve these objectives. The data can also help us determine the areas of focus we need.

Healthcare planning will become seamless and healthcare itself will become less costly, allowing for more focus on prevention. We must seek buy-in from all healthcare providers, to have a national real-time database.

Then we would leapfrog to the front of the line for health information since the technology is already here.

 

SPECIFIC PATHWAYS

 

Outside of generalised population health, the good thing about predictive analytics is that it can get data down to the individual, allowing for specific pathways for care to be crafted for each patient.

The data is available from EMR, including doctor's and nurse's notes, radiology and other diagnostic results, past illnesses, history of family illnesses and so on. With this information, doctors can make more accurate diagnoses in less time and with immediate access to international best practices.

In addition, a doctor can tell a patient specifically what the possible trajectory will be for them, and not generally, if they maintain a certain health path. This would also consider their genetic make-up and family history to determine their likelihood of illness as well as the best treatment options for them.

Armed with this type of information, both doctor and patient can benefit from early interventions and prevention. Doctors can also easily identify at-risk patients in their practice or at the primary-care level in the public sector and take the necessary action.

In the medical world, there is hardly anything that can beat quick access to evidence-based medicine. Data with predictive analytics provides for this.

The health sector in Jamaica is increasingly waking up to the importance of technology for the operation of the business of health in both the public and private sectors. We have seen this with the introduction of an app-like health programme - eCare - the digitisation of the UHWI and the increased interest in e-prescription.

Once we have fully incorporated technology in health we will start to benefit from predictive analytics, which will allow us to have actionable knowledge that we can use to save lives and improve health.

- Doug Halsall is chairman and CEO, Advanced Integrated Systems. Feedback: Doug.halsall@gmail.com