Guest Post: Combining Big Data, EHRs and IoT for Chronic Disease Management

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017
This post was written by Brian Geary, Senior Account Manager, AndPlus

Providers and developers can work together to create solutions that leverage big data, EHRs and the IoT.

Have you ever used a Fitbit® or an Apple Watch®, or downloaded a mHealth app? If so, are you using these tools as an integrated way to improve your health?

The more we use technology, the more we want it to do for us. With millions of people living with complex diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, the development of intuitive and secure chronic disease management tools has become indispensable.

Yet, these tools may not support successful, sustained disease management—at least, not without the help of providers themselves.

More than 40 percent of patients who had downloaded an mHealth app had stopped using it when the app failed to provide accurate, personalized and actionable strategies for achieving their health goals. High data entry burden, hidden fees, and poor usability were other sticking points for these patients.

Another study carried out by an international team of researchers tracked 800 people for a year to see what impact Fitbit had on their health. The experts concluded that such devices are unlikely to be a magic bullet for the early detection and monitoring of chronic diseases.

So how can providers and developers work together to create engaging and supportive solutions that leverage big data, electronic health records and the Internet of Things (IoT) to utmost effect?

Using Big Data to Make Wiser Medical Decisions

Big data analytics allow providers to discover certain patterns that assist them in making better predictions about certain diseases.

With the help of big data and IoT, including patient records, clinical trials, insurance claims, and wearables, providers can discern the extent to which each intervention, as well as its associated expenditures, contribute to the improvement of their patients’ health.

However, in order to achieve measurable cost savings and long-lasting chronic disease control for patients, software models are required to help clinicians organize the data, recognize patterns, interpret results, and set thresholds for actions.

For example, to avoid the failure of an EHR to keep up with one’s sudden healthcare changes, hospitals should look at its software as being only the foundation of their health information, risking a negative impact on patient care.

Through department-appropriate software customization, hospitals can cut down wasted time spent scrolling through irrelevant screens and unnecessary fields, tracking down patient histories and reviewing duplicate data.

Having an intuitive, user-friendly EHR software also helps patients be more informed about their own health and prevents potential issues. They can access test results to see when follow-up appointments are due or communicate with their doctors to bring up any issues that may show significant health problems.

5 Things to Look for When Choosing an EHR System

    • Firstly, your EHR system should integrate easily with other systems within the hospital, such as clinical discussion support systems, laboratory information systems and other tools.
    • Further to considering the individual and specific departmental needs in a hospital, the other important feature of EHR software is customization (e.g. streamlining manual data entry). This is also advantageous for patients, as a customizable EHR system can be tailored to suit specific needs for data access, education and portability.
    • To make the most out of technological advancements and the benefits of customization, constant performance reviews of the chosen EHR systems in real-life scenarios are highly important. For example, when Medica conducted a research study to identify how they could improve their blood gas analyzer product line, it found out that its user interface needed a refresh. The outdated push button control system caused a lengthy training process for new users, so it required a radically improved user interface.
       
    • Make EHR software accessible with smartphones and tablets and provide easy access from connected devices, freeing clinicians from their workstations and creating access to patient data remotely. With accessibility, productivity soars and doctors can provide better care and reduce the lag between diagnosis and treatment, while lowering healthcare costs and improving patient’s compliance with treatment through consistent two-way communication.
    • Last but not least, a customized solution for your EHR can align workflows with the current processes a staff is already following, which can save time and prevent confusion when training users on the new EHR.

    By ensuring all your staff members receive thorough training and have access to ongoing support when questions or problems arise, the risk of the EHR becoming outdated is also minimized. Situations such as missing patient history or test results, which can lead to delayed diagnosis, unnecessary tests or even a misdiagnosis, are avoided.

    IoT Benefits for Healthcare Providers and Patients

    Doctors, nurses, and caregivers are not the only benefactors of IoT and healthcare apps. These devices can alert medical staff to wandering patients, monitor ICU patients or potentially dangerous procedures and treatments.

    Moreover, if a patient with a chronic illness needs immediate attention, the IoT can alert medical experts, and even connect the two to talk them through an emergency.

    In terms of direct patient benefits, IoT devices can remind patients when to take their medications, alert them about pending prescription refills or train them about upcoming medical procedures, while transferring relevant medical information back to the patient’s healthcare provider.

    To sum up, big data, electronic health records, and IoT devices have the potential to save money and often, even people’s lives. Together they contribute to increased efficiency, improved patient satisfaction and more time to focus on patient care.

    About the Author: Brian Geary is a senior account manager for AndPlus, LLC. Brian is a true believer in the Agile process. He often assists the development process by performing the product owner role. In addition to his technical background, he is an experienced account manager with a background in sales and customer service, as well as graphic design and marketing. Brian’s role at AndPlus ranges from marketing to sales and everything in between. Brian brings 10+ years of graphic design, marketing and account management experience to AndPlus.

    HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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