Some people seem to think that Big Data is the cure for all ills. Nowhere is the excitement as great as in healthcare.
It is time for a reality check. While data collection and analysis are at the heart of managing big organisations and achieving goals, healthcare has generally lagged behind other industries in extracting value from information technologies.
The debate on improving healthcare – from a tech point of view – is too often focussing on ‘sexy’ propositions such as Big Data, exciting biotech, DNA sequencing, etc. We believe that the real challenge – how to manage people with Long-Term Conditions – is being obscured.
You don’t need Big Data to understand that roughly ¾ of healthcare cost is spent on roughly ¼ of the population. Yes, fancy analytics can help with risk stratification and identifying ‘expensive’ patients. However, applying sophisticated tools for patient identification is somewhat meaningless when there are few or no targeted case management processes or effective pathways to deal with the identified patients. In our view, too much thinking is going into sophisticated risk-stratification and desk-top exercises that are detached from actual challenges of healthcare delivery.
What is needed is pro-active case management of a relatively small part of the population. At the core of solving the Long-Term Condition management challenge, is the breaking down of silos in health and social care and the application of patient centric case management. Appointed case managers should be responsible for a cohort of patients with their incentives aligned to cost-savings achieved, e.g. reduced hospital admissions and less use of other resource intensive services.
Yes, technology has a role to play, principally in facilitating case management, including extracting data from different sources to provide the case manager with a more complete picture. We also see a greater role for tried and tested remote monitoring of patients in their own homes and online engagement of patients. Technology however should help deliver better care at lower cost – not satisfy the curiosity of developers and technologists.