How to leverage healthcare analytics to control healthcare costs [Opinion]

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Healthcare costs directly impact an SME’s bottom line and overall competitiveness.

Skyrocketing healthcare costs in the United States have become mainstream political and economic issues. According to World Bank data, US healthcare costs are at 17 percent of GDP.

Furthermore, the collection and sharing of data, characterized by the urgent deployment of electronic health records and health information exchanges, has failed to significantly impact the quality and cost of healthcare in the United States, according to Health Catalyst.

By this measure, some Middle Eastern countries are in better shape. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are currently spending about 3.2 percent of their GDP on healthcare.

Two different regions with strikingly different healthcare costs. (Images via Sheikher Malwanker)
 

Instead of simply following the age-old traditional practices of developed countries, MENA countries have an opportunity to leapfrog and control spiraling healthcare costs by doing the following:

  1. Promote preventive healthcare with the new age of wellness devices and tools by reaching out to the grassroots population through channels like corporate employers, telecom carriers, banks and others. Provide a common repository portal to channel the lifestyle related data of every individual participating in the preventive program.
  2. Allow individuals to manage and share their own health, insurance and chronic disease device management related data in the same common repository portal.
  3. Help hospitals, labs, pharmacies and insurance companies understand that data sharing is actually good for them and enable them to share at least a subset of the electronic medical records with patients through the common repository portal.

Having a holistic view of the historical data, lifestyle data, chronic disease management data and the current lab data, through a single lens, will aid the physicians to ditch their cookbook and move to evidence based medicine. This in turn can reduce significant costs in the healthcare delivery to the patients. The real promise of big data and analytics in healthcare lies in its ability to transform healthcare into a truly data-driven culture.

Due to age old legacy issues, many hospitals in the developed countries are still wrestling with ones like how to get basic patient information into their hospital systems efficiently. MENA countries have the right opportunity to take advantage of the advances in cloud technology, mobility and more to seamlessly enable data transfers between the central portal and the individual hospital information systems.

Big data, huge potential.
 
Prescriptive analytics - these analytics will give us the ability to predict an upcoming event as well as the capability to do something about it.

Analytics based on big data will allow MENA countries, governments, private organizations and healthcare service providers to evaluate themselves, create best-practices and implement innovative initiatives to promote preventive care, better lifestyles and hence reduce the ongoing healthcare related costs instead of simply following the model of inefficient healthcare delivery in developed countries.

Multiple technologies and techniques, including data visualization, will provide a view of highly complex and large datasets revealing underlying and previously unknown patterns and interactions between patients and providers. Instead of simply processing claims, a typical insurance company or a TPA can blend claims data with several years of social, business and educational connections to fingerprint patients and healthcare providers.

It’s a shame to note that as consumers we insist on buying automobiles that will give us proactive alerts about what’s happening in our car, but as patients we have failed to demand to know what’s happening to our own bodies in this day and age.

Just like the way several under-developed countries leapfrogged from landlines to mobile services, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap in the healthcare delivery process in the MENA region by implementing the right tools required for the utilization of big data in healthcare. To enable this, implementing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in the healthcare ecosystem is a key requirement. This will allow us to host today’s data sets - as well as tomorrow’s data sets, from sources that organizations don’t even know they need yet.

A web based central portal like Hyjiya and the mobile app from Hyjiya will help link contemporary data sets to legacy health IT architecture. Use of the patented health risk assessment tools provided in hyjiya will help individuals, corporates and governments to gain a view on the predictive dashboards and reports to plan the wellness programs for the benefit of everyone at the grassroots level.

 

Investment in health is an investment in the happiness of citizens in the MENA countries. It just requires simple initiatives to educate and encourage citizens to take control of their health data in their own hands, plan and manage their own lifestyle data, perform simple health risk assessments on their own data and implement few simple wellness techniques to manage their mind, body and diet and hence their health.

 

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