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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
By Scott Megill
The demand for healthcare to go mobile is on the rise.
More and more physicians and patients are using an increasing number of mobile healthcare apps, healthcare apps which enable an almost unlimited range of health-related functions, from an individual patient controlling their diabetes, to monitoring diet & exercise and even, to tracking medical treatments and progress.
By 2017, half of the world’s more than 3.4 billion smart phone users will have downloaded health-related apps.
The rapid increase in mobile health app use is generating an enormous amount of patient data. Simultaneously, a plethora of data is being generated through individual patient’s medical records, which can easily cross multiple departments, physicians, and clinicians.
How can healthcare providers manage this influx of data and tap into the mobile opportunity to draw key insights and improve customer care? Continue Reading »
By Martin Cooper
After decades of existence, the mobile phone is finally beginning to hint at its potential to address some of society’s most important challenges.
As the mobile industry grows out of its vapid obsession with pixels, apps, and bling, recognition of one of the mobile phone’s higher callings is getting attention. This emerging focus on the phone as a device for transferring personalized health information to and from an individual sets society up for revolutionary improvements in healthcare.
Just imagine a society in which diseases, and the pain and suffering they cause, simply do not exist—in which people are healthy until end-of-life. Such a society is within the realm of scientific possibilities, but only if we change our approaches to healthcare. Smarter use of data, enabled by mobile phones, can help as we switch from curing diseases that have already struck to anticipating and preventing the diseases before they strike. Continue Reading »