Love it or hate it, the collection and processing of data is an integral part of modern life, as information about who we are and what we do is constantly gathered and analyzed—and from anywhere in the world, whether you’re at work, rest, or play. Most of this data is used to benefit those doing the collecting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take, for example, healthcare. Data collection and analysis can directly benefit patients and providers alike.
Collecting Health Data Outside of the Doctor’s Office
Traditionally, the routine collection of healthcare data such as body temperature, heart rate, blood sugar, and so on, has been collected manually; but with more and more smart devices, it has become increasingly automated. Moreover, just as the Internet of Things is enabling homeowners to remotely manage their appliances, in the same way, connectivity between patient monitoring devices is empowering health professionals to act upon biometric data in a more timely and effective manner. This type of monitoring will no doubt see sharp growth thanks to the increasing proliferation of wearable devices, which, if tailored for the healthcare market, will enable physicians to instantly collect data from patients.
Wearable devices are an exciting and rapidly growing area of technology. According to a report from IHS Technology, global revenue for telehealth devices and services could hit $4.15 billion as early as 2018, a tenfold increase over last year (2013).
This growth will inevitably lead to an exponential rise in the amount of digital information that healthcare institutions will need to process. But we’re not just talking about big data applications, where analysis to identify long-term trends is typically performed some time after information has been collected. That kind of analysis has its place, but, more importantly, a major spin-off from the expected growth in telehealth devices will be the ability to analyze patient data in real time. Fast Data empowers healthcare professionals to identify and act upon critical issues of immediate concern as they arise.
Beepers Are So Yesterday
Clearly, there’s a lot more to these devices than simply dialing a beeper in response to a single event, like a heart irregularity. Rather, the technologies behind the Internet of Things are enabling coordinated data collection from multiple medical monitors that can be both intelligently cross-referenced and linked to patient history, computerized diagnostic tools, and other resources.
And the end result? Fast identification of potentially problematic changes, and alerts issued in real time to those best able to deal with them.
There is still a lot to learn with regards to data protection and security issues, but momentum and interest are building from healthcare organizations across the globe that recognize the benefits of this approach. One organization is the Sisters of Mercy health system in the U.S. It’s using TIBCO technology to analyze real-time patient data to accelerate diagnosis and treatment of two progressive and potentially fatal diseases—Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure.
Capturing, analyzing, and interpreting more than five million events every day, the Sisters of Mercy health system is already delivering real-time patient data, when it matters, to physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and others. The next step is to extend this to home monitoring to enable those responsible for patient care to further their reach and use Fast Data to truly save lives.