Analytics is Driving the New Level of Healthcare Transformation

By Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Dr Prakash (name changed) was very excited to receive news that they finally had the disease markers for their patient population. For years as the head of medicine he had operated guided by disease markers from western studies and he had used them as a basis to decide on the intervention required for chronic cases like diabetes and heart conditions.

But starting this week they had the opportunity to use their own patient data to decide these interventions. With the help of analytics, their patient data had been transferred to a big data system and now they had analytics to predict how the course of the treatment could be altered based on their intervention. The new system also helped them give the right clinical advice to the patients improving the recovery and lowering the time for the same.

This might seem like a page out of wish list for Indian Healthcare systems, but this is actually happening in many hospitals across the country. Dr Prakash is not the only one and this is the reality with advent of digital transformation in hospitals in India.

Manipal Hospital for example has been has also been analysing its Health Information System (HIS) data, particularly on the progression of kidney diseases in patients. On comparing Kidney Function Test parameters between patients in India and patients in the West, it was found that the rate of kidney deterioration in a Caucasian diabetic patient was 1% but that in an Indian diabetic patient was 4%.

This helped the hospital devise a program for early intervention in diabetic patients in India. It is a significant development for healthcare in India, as most guidelines on public health published globally are based on studies conducted on American/European populations, hence not always accurate for India. By leveraging Indian patient data, healthcare organisations can issue accurate health guidelines for India including variations for local population in each city and state.

They say data is the new oil, the healthcare data is pure octane rocket fuel. With this data and the ability to generate insights, many hospitals have made significant changes to their clinical decision support system, helping the doctors to make accurate decisions on the line of treatment.

In oncology, for example a hospital is able to leverage data to decide on the right line of attack between Surgical intervention, Radiation and Chemotherapy. As the first line of attack is the best line of attack for recovery this helps many doctors in making the correct decisions, keeping in mind the prognosis and functional recovery of their patients.

In addition to this, analytics has helped hospitals like Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai to balance the workload of their specialists. They use the operations data to analyse the case load of various specialists and to balance the case loads of those doctors already under busy with cases. The hospital has also been using their OPD data and combining with patient records to identify disease patterns in the local areas that they serve.

As I wrote in my book Own Your Health: “As we can see from above healthcare ecosystem is poised for a massive digital transformation. In coming times, doctors will rely more on technology in addition to the knowledge augmented by human contact. Path-breaking technologies like AI and cognitive solutions will potentially transform the care continuum and alter patient’s experience. Hospitals are increasingly embracing digital solutions and relying more on technology.”

While rapid strides have been made in the field of analytics in India, a lot more needs to be done.

These are some of the important steps that I would recommend in order to make sure most hospitals leverage analytic and the power of data.

  • Focus on data standardization: As part of the Digital Health Blueprint and the India Stack, there has been increased focus on standardization that would help the various parts of the healthcare ecosystem with data sharing.
  • Built-in mechanisms for consent, cyber security and privacy: As part of the analytics framework, efforts need to be made to ensure the protection of the data including privacy. If not managed this could become the single largest stumbling block top rapid adoption of analytics in healthcare
  • Focus on data governance: Today governance of data is mostly from the point of storage. But we need to change that lens to look at if more from a Machine Learning perspective. The data we have should be in a format to create training and test data for the system to be trained for decision making and recommendations
  • Create an ecosystem: The analytics for healthcare cannot be built by hospitals alone. The industry needs to create a ecosystem involving startups, academia and others.

In conclusion, analytics has added a new dimension to our healthcare delivery and is helping Indian doctors and hospitals become world class. But this is just the beginning and a lot more needs to be done to ensure that we continue to build this in India and scale the system to provide better access to care.

Author:

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran is a doctor turned technologist. He is the founder of Healthcare India, a research and analysis think tank that works in the public health space. Dr Vikram’s debut book “Own Your Health” has just been released on Amazon.

Healthcare Executive is an exclusive online Healthcare Business magazine based in India .