In cardiology, Big Data covers the ‘whole’ patient

Jeroen Tas, CEO Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services, Philips Healthcare

29 August 2014

This week’s ESC Congress in Barcelona has a lot of people buzzing about the latest innovation and research in the field of cardiology. From my vantage point, I’m most excited to see how Big Data is being put to work to change the face of cardiac care.

Now more than ever, the industry is in a position to use data to fully understand and care for “the whole patient” in cardiology — from prevention and screening to treatment to recovery and wellness.

Here’s why:

  • We can finally factor it all in — Cardiology care involves so many variables, from family history to lifestyle choices to medication adherence. Images and scans, informatics and EMR data are obviously critical, but Big Data enables us to aggregate those along with patient-reported symptoms, genomic data and behavioural information.
    Viewed in isolation, those pieces are helpful, but viewed together, they enable clinicians to better design customized treatment plans for each patient, and draw associations and insights across populations of patients with similar characteristics.
  • We can stay more connected to the patient — and know them well. Someone said that the blockbuster drug of the century will be patient engagement. Consumer industries are obviously very good at this in terms of predicting what products people will buy next – from their Amazon purchases, Spotify selections and Facebook interactions. What’s new is the scale with which we can apply data in a similar way to encourage patient engagement.
    Big Data enables us to track, categorize and understand patient behaviours, discipline to adhere to treatment plans, likes, dislikes, support from friends, families, caregivers, motivations, etc. In cardiology especially, this is critical. With the right algorithms that look at multiple factors and vital signs simultaneously, we can see deterioration and take action to avoid acute situations.
  • We can act faster, be preventive and empower doctors — cardiologists are often fighting the clock, especially when it comes to AMIs, and spend a lot of time measuring after a cardiac event.
    Big Data will enable clinicians to access continuous streams of data for complete, ongoing pictures of their patients. The technology only recently came to the point where monitoring is no longer just weight scales and blood pressure cuffs, but full continuous monitoring including data from devices like mobile and tablet-based ECGs.
    Wearables and other devices can communicate with cardiologists. Then, we can compare that data across patient populations, and through predictive analysis, gather insight into early warning signs and indicators, like deterioration ratings. So the result is that Big Data ultimately creates a more satisfying role for the physician. With more information to avoid cardiac events before they occur, cardiologists can shift from treatment to prevention.

Today, most cardiologists around the world are stretched thin, trying to keep up with rise of heart disease and working to do more with less. At the same time, the number of clinicians is declining. Big data can help fill that gap. As everyone walks the halls of ESC this week, I hope to see signs of moving toward a connected cardiology world, where both patients and clinicians can reap the benefits of Big Data.

Information on the ESC 2014 Congress can be found at:

See also:

The barriers to tapping into Big Content and how to overcome them

How big data is being used in healthcare today

Protecting critical healthcare data in the era of 'big data'

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