By Patty Fritz
Despite afflicting 65 million people worldwide, including nearly 3 million Americans, epilepsy remains one of the least understood and most individualized chronic conditions. A recent special issue of the medical journal, The Lancet, highlighted the significant unmet medical needs in epilepsy and called on public health officials to treat this disease as a global health priority.
To address this pressing public health issue, global biopharmaceutical company UCB and IBM have announced phase one completion of a proof of concept project that will use Big Data and advanced analytics to potentially offer more personalized care to millions of people living with epilepsy.
Currently, a team of IBM researchers is poring through de-identified, anonymous data on more than 1.5 million U.S.-based epilepsy patients – approximately half those affected by the condition in our country – using machine learning tools and patient similarity analysis. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that an interactive system can be developed that translates massive amounts of patient data and scientific insights that healthcare providers can consult at the point of care to inform their treatment decisions.
When technologies like analytics and cognitive computing are applied to big data, it may revolutionize the way we deliver and receive medical care. UCB’s patient-centric approach and IBM’s long-standing reputation for expertise and innovation in the fields of technology and analytics present a natural partnership. Harnessing the predictive power of IBM’s technology would enable us to arm physicians with information that supports their clinical decision-making and could help them improve quality of care for patients living with a little understood and highly individualized condition.
No matter who is on the receiving end—academia, research institutions, patients or physicians—addressing the challenges of epilepsy requires collaboration with a diverse group of internal and external experts. This is the first step toward streamlining large amounts of data into actionable approaches to epilepsy care and ultimately improving quality of care for people living with epilepsy.