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 Dr. Patrick Parfrey, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St John's, Newfoundland

Dr. Patrick Parfrey, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland

By Dr. Patrick Parfrey

Research within the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland is about to enter a new era.

For decades, researchers at our facility followed traditional routes to answer their research question with the hope of finding a sometimes elusive answer that could affect change. Conventionally at the end of the project, with luck, a good research paper was published in a high-impact journal. And for a substantial amount of time these findings didn’t move in the direction of change the researchers had hoped.

The Translational & Personalized Medicine Initiative (TPMI) is a program that will support the broader goals of health system reform through the creation of a sustainable health system by reducing inappropriate utilization, increasing efficiencies, improving cost effectiveness, and improving patient outcomes.  Continue Reading »

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Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire of the Ollmann Saphire laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, at the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire of the Ollmann Saphire laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, at the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

By Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire

The current outbreak of the Ebola virus is the largest in history, and has been described by the World Health Organization as “the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.”

While previous outbreaks have ended when the disease was contained and disappeared from the human population, the scope of the 2014 outbreak raises the possibility that the virus, rather than disappearing again, could become endemic – permanently persisting in human populations in one or more areas. Continue Reading »

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Uyi Stewart, Chief Scientist, IBM Research-Africa

Osamuyimen T. Stewart, Ph.D., Distinguished Engineer, Chief Scientist, IBM Research-Africa

By Osamuyimen T. Stewart, Ph.D.

The World Health Organization estimates that almost 10,000 cases of the Ebola virus disease have been reported since the latest outbreak was first reported in March 2014, resulting in more than 4,800 deaths. According to the WHO, widespread and intense transmission is occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while localized transmissions have occurred in other countries, such as the U.S.

Of the many daunting challenges facing local governments and aid organizations as they try to contain and manage the virus is the collection and analysis of information — current and insightful data about the situation on the ground, such as the needs of affected people, the supplies and services they require and the need for education to address socio-cultural obstacles.

If we can map all the data, we can figure out what needs to be done and who we need to partner with to get it done. Continue Reading »

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October 27th, 2014
0:01
 

BigDatavsEbolaBy Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

On Aug. 5, a group of open data mavens and government officials from Africa gathered in Washington, D.C., to launch an initiative called Africa Open Data. The goal was to help African countries tap open data as a means of addressing health, infrastructure and economic challenges. In a shocking turn of events, members of the Sierra Leone delegation simultaneously received text messages alerting them that their flight back home had been canceled due to the rapid spread of Ebola. Suddenly, they were citizens cut off from their country.

“They had looks on their faces of total panic, fear and trauma,” recounts Steven Adler, IBM’s open data evangelist and an organizer of the the event. On the spot, Steve and other participants started brainstorming ways they–and data–could help . They banged around ideas and began emailing and texting friends and associates they thought could lend a hand. Continue Reading »

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October 22nd, 2014
11:52
 

Jia Chen, PhD, Director Health Solutions, IBM Smarter Cities

Jia Chen, PhD, Director Health Solutions, IBM Smarter Cities

By Jia Chen, PhD

In the most popular eldercare home located in the heart of downtown Beijing, there are more than 10,000 applicants waiting for one of its 1,100 beds. The waiting list is currently 100 years long as only a few beds open up each year.

By the end of 2013, there were more than 200 million people over the age of 60 in China, accounting for 20% of the elderly population worldwide, making it the country with the most senior citizens in the world.

China is also the country with the fastest growing aging population. It’s projected that the elderly population will grow by 10 million per year in China and reach over 400 million in the next 20 years. It took the United   States 79 years to double its elderly population from 7% to 14% of the total population. It will take China only 27 years to achieve the same growth. Continue Reading »

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Cynthia Burghard, a Research Director with IDC’s Health Insights

Cynthia Burghard, a Research Director with IDC’s Health Insights

The world of healthcare is revolving and evolving ever faster as new technologies and approaches to care take shape. Watching the transformation from the front row is Cynthia Burghard, a Research Director with IDC’s Health Insights. The Smarter Planet sat down with Burghard this week at the IBM Health and Social Programs Summit to learn more about holistic care as well as the rising role of such technologies as cloud, analytics and mobile.

Smarter Planet: Why are we finally beginning to take a holistic view of each individual in the context of their environment?
Cynthia Burghard: Many studies have identified a wide range of factors that are not clinical as determinants of health. It used to be thought that lifestyle and genetics were the key determinants of health but it has been shown that factors such as socio economics, behavioral, spiritual and environmental factors all contribute to health and disease.

Continue Reading »

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Ronan Rooney, IBM Research, Cúram Product Strategy

Ronan Rooney, IBM Research, Cúram Product Strategy

By Ronan Rooney

There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of health care and many suggestions about how we can improve population health.

Traditional models of care focus on individual episodes and they work really well for people with simple clinical, behavioral or social challenges. Where they fall down is when they’re applied to people who have multiple or complex challenges – the people we consider the most vulnerable.

As part of IBM’s Curam Research Team, we’re very focused on finding new ways to help those vulnerable citizens who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of healthcare expenditure – the top 5% of spenders drive 45%-50% of total medical spending. Continue Reading »

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Bernard Tyson, CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Bernard Tyson, CEO, Kaiser Permanente

By Bernard Tyson

Since shortly after Kaiser Permanente’s launch in 1945, this organization has been at the forefront of using technology to improve patient care. We started collecting large amounts of data about patients and treatment outcomes long before electronic medical records and “big data” became hot topics. And, today, we remain one of the early adopters of cutting-edge technology in the healthcare industry.

Like other healthcare organizations, we take advantage of technology to make our operations more efficient and to help deliver superior care. But I believe that information technology can play an even more important role in this industry: It can help us transform from focusing on healthcare to focusing on health.

What do I mean by that? To me, the term healthcare connotes being reactive to problems. That’s not enough. An organization that focuses more broadly on health itself can help people extend their lives and live healthier lives. Continue Reading »

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Lynda Chin, Scientific Dir., MD Anderson Institute for Applied Cancer Science

Lynda Chin,  Chair of Genomic Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

By Lynda Chin

New technologies have their upsides and downsides.

High speed computing has allowed for rapid gene sequencing and a tremendous acceleration in scientific discovery.  The parallel developments of handheld computers and high-speed wireless networks have led to an amazing point in human history; one where several libraries worth of information can immediately be accessed from devices we carry in our pockets. Continue Reading »

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Dr. Guillermo Cecchi, an IBM Reseach staff member working in Biometaphorical Computing

Dr. Guillermo Cecchi, an IBM Reseach staff member working in Biometaphorical Computing

By Dr. Guillermo Cecchi

More than 63 million psychiatric interviews are conducted every year. But none of them are analyzed in a quantitative codified manner. Surprising? Not really. Doctors don’t have time to find patterns in the pages of notes they keep per patient. Those pages, though, keep “big data” on psychiatric issues that analytics can help unlock and predict before episodes occur.

Now, after a multi-year study and accompanying development of text analysis algorithms, we may finally be able to quantify patterns in these interviews, and help doctors treat patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. Continue Reading »

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