Data tells a story. But the story is about people. As we move further and further into a world wherein data becomes the new platform, what intelligence will we build upon that platform?
We need to make certain that we are improving our businesses beyond just the beautiful way in which we render data, and the visual display of quantitative information. We need to move from structured through to unstructured. In healthcare, we should start with the simple. And by starting with the simple, we should start with people at the center. How can we, through the application of intelligence upon the data that we have, modify behavior, improve patient health and avoid lifestyle related outcomes that reduce our quality of life, and cost the healthcare system extraordinary amounts of money every year?
Globally, there are approximately 400 Million people with type 2 diabetes, or 6% of the worlds population. 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed each year. Type 2 diabetes costs the US healthcare ecosystem $245 billion every year. It costs the UK NHS £14 billion, or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. Type 2 diabetes carries significant co-morbidity conditions that themselves are very costly to the healthcare ecosystem. With these co-morbidity, Type 2 diabetes carries a financial impact of £4,000/patient in UK, and $13,000/patient in the US.
As care organizations endeavor to modify the behavior of the people whom they insure, they should start with what they know about them. Where do they live? What access do they have to healthy food choices? Are they in a network and an environment that is conducive to getting out and getting exercise? Will they track their weight, and make small changes in order to lose weight? Given what they know about them, and what they can learn from the information they have on them, algorithms can be applied against that data that allows coaching paths to become illuminated. There have been successes out there, wherein people reaching out to people can make a difference. This is something that can be tackled and considering the costs at stake here, wouldn't this be worth it? State-level Medicare, the CDC, the American Diabetes Association all have literature on how personal interventions make a difference.
But let's start by keeping it simple, considering what we have and know, and then we can consider digital interventions that put people at the center of what we are trying to accomplish. The data around each of us and our lives is only increasing, and as it does, we should consider using it to help drive people and populations towards healthier living.
Some executives had some big ideas for patient engagements – Bluetooth scales in everyone's home! a reconfigured discharge tool! – but it was more important to keep it simple while also thinking creatively, said Gaines. "Let your data tell your story."