Monday, 25 October 2010

Smarter HealthCare Solution

Recently was attending a Conference in Atlanta and one of the panel discussion that I attended was on Smarter Health Care Solution. A very interesting set of panelists from Google, Symantec, Intuit and Microsoft participated in it. Indeed in US it is a hot topic because of the highly expensive healthcare system. The point of discussion was how do we make the healthcare system much smarter and worth the amount that is spent on it by an individual. Everybody agreed in the panel that in order to create a smarter healthcare solution one of the biggest steps was to create an electronic health record. This record can be something that can be shared easily between hospitals and doctors that a patient needs to consult. Considering that one of the studies shows that in 5 years 30% of the world's data would be around health record, it definitely makes more sense.

An electronic health record idea is great but currently there is lack of a standard format to create and share this record. Companies like Symantec and Google have solutions to create electronic healthcare record but each of them have their own standards and they are completely non-interoperable. So for example consider that there are two hospitals that provides and maintain an electronic health record. A patient from the first hospital has to consult a doctor from the second hospital. Can the same electronic record be used in the second hospital? Currently it is not possible. So the solution needs to be standardized and then only it makes sense to do that, otherwise the patient will land up carrying more printed data which are anyway questionable in terms of security.

Once an electronic health record is created the next thing is about the security and integrity of the record. Most of this data is very sensitive and needs to be carefully shared so it is very important to provide access structure around this record. At the same time the integrity and the uniqueness of the data also needs to be maintained as an error in health record can actually cause very severe outcomes. IBM's recent acquisition Initiate provides a high quality data integration solution. Initiate has a very strong matching engine where key criteria for matching is:-

  • Bringing together a complete set of information even if the individual is known as J Krishnamurthy in one system and Jay Krishnamurthy in another and so on.
  • Also another criteria is avoiding mixing information from two distinct patients
    who live in same city like Rahul Sharma and Raul Sharma.

The next thing after ensuring the correct accurate data is building analytics on top of it so that research and predictions can be done around them. India is becoming a hub of high standard healthcare at very affordable cost. Hospitals are equipped with instruments and doctors who can do the most complicated surgery at reasonable costs. So a smarter healthcare system should definitely be the journey that the companies especially in India should start investing in, so that the there is economic growth and the society also progresses.