Share with your friends










Submit

Analytics Magazine

Healthcare Analytics: AI, blockchain expected to fuel industry’s growth

Despite setbacks, healthcare analytics market’s future success will be built on secure, private sharing of data by multiple institutions.

Rajib GhoshBy Rajib Ghosh

During the first week of June the U.S. Justice Department decided not to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if it is challenged in court. Historically, a sitting government deciding not to support an existing law passed by the Congress is a deviation from the norm. Insurance companies would be free to charge more (or even deny coverage) to consumers with pre-existing conditions, and millions of consumers with pre-existing conditions could effectively find themselves back to square one. Also, the decision introduced instability in the insurance market. Insurers were getting ready to set their pricing for the next year, and now they are completely confused regarding pricing strategy. Interestingly, insurance companies issued a statement opposing the position taken by the DOJ, but it remains to be seen how they will respond to this new development with their future prices.

Will the DOJ’s decision negatively impact the healthcare analytics market, especially in the insurance sector? The jury is still out. Nonetheless, the move toward value-based purchasing model, a payment reform initiative of ACA that acted as a major catalyst for healthcare analytics, is not anticipated to change. In the provider market, however, uncertainty might lead to a wait-and-watch approach. On top of that, a recent declaration by IBM Watson Health to significantly reduce its workforce rattled many. It is possible that IBM’s expectation of the growth in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare didn’t materialize.

Consumers need to have visibility about what is happening with their data, who is accessing it, when they are accessing it and why they are accessing it.
Source: ThinkStock

Applying AI in medical care is a hard problem; evidence of efficacy is important. Medicine is a difficult domain to navigate, and it takes many years to make a technology sophisticated and accurate enough to win endorsement from medical professionals. IBM’s failed attempt at MD Anderson Cancer Hospital is a reminder. Diseases in real life are not static – they change and so do the diagnostics. Algorithms, therefore, can never be static – training data sets have to change to match the new reality, and new evidence has to be established through clinical trials. AI for healthcare is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and short-term hypes are bound to wane.

However, despite that bad news, at least one market report suggests that the future of healthcare analytics remains bright, with the U.S. healthcare analytics market potentially reaching $54 billion by 2025. Newer technological breakthroughs such as AI and blockchain are expected to fuel the growth along with the drive to reduce cost of service delivery and reduction of systemwide waste. However, the building block for this growth will surely come from secure and private sharing of data by multiple institutions engaged in consumer healthcare.

Figure 1: Despite setbacks, the healthcare analytics market is expected to continue to grow according to one report. Source: www.grandviewresearch.com

Figure 1: Despite setbacks, the healthcare analytics market is expected to continue to grow according to one report.
Source: www.grandviewresearch.com

Blockchain and Electronic Health Records

In my previous column I alluded to the use of blockchain as the enabler for data sharing with appropriate privacy and security measures among multiple medical and social care organizations. The lack of trust among institutions and legal barriers that exist today are significant deterrents for data sharing and, therefore, act as a roadblock for advanced analytics solutions. For healthcare analytics to reach its market potential as described in the report mentioned earlier, such barriers need to come down. In this column I would like to touch upon one blockchain implementation proposal that could build trust among data sharing organizations and instill confidence in the minds of the consumers who entrust healthcare organizations with their data.

The debate regarding the “ownership” of healthcare data continues within the healthcare industry. I participated in many data sharing meetings where the executives and middle management of healthcare organizations referenced patient data that they have in their custody as “their data.” I cringe every time I hear that. Patients have made healthcare organizations their custodian of healthcare data; health data sets were generated by the consumers when they interacted with the staff and equipment of the healthcare delivery organizations. So, consumers should be the lawful owners of this data.

New Hampshire is the only state that provides ownership of patient data to patients. Most states don’t have any formal legislation delineating custody of medical records. Although most systems allow patient to have access to the data via some kind of web or mobile app, the problem arises when multiple health systems are involved, which is typically the case. We live in a silo-ed environment where each custodian of our data fights to be legally compliant and to avoid business risk by not allowing cross-sharing with other custodians. That’s a good strategy for their own business operation perhaps, but it’s terrible for the true owners of that information.

Recently, Apple’s entry into the healthcare market excited some pundits who are proclaiming that Apple can solve this issue and put “personal health records” back in the game. I would argue that it is great for the consumers to own that information, but they need to have full control including the potential sale of the data to researchers or pharmaceutical companies interested in buying it. Today, consumers get virtually nothing from such transactions. Consumers need to have visibility about what is happening with their data, who is accessing it, when they are accessing it and why they are accessing it. If profit-making entities like pharmaceutical companies are using the data to validate efficacy of a new drug, then urge them to share the fair market value of that data for that access.

This is the area where blockchain could shine as it removes intermediaries. It is not advisable to store the entire health record (or health record curated from many places) of a patient in a blockchain. That’s too much data to handle and encrypt; too much data will make blockchain processing unwieldy from the performance standpoint. Organizations that need to share information could develop smart contracts between them and their patients. This could enable patients to have control of their data sharing and subsequent use. Actual data could still reside inside individual provider’s electronic health record system.

MedRec developers, who are focused on developing a blockchain-based health data sharing platform on Ethereum, have proposed the architectural concept shown in Figure 2. This could be considered as a key building block for the modern day personal health record platform. Another startup called Medicalchain is using a similar approach.

Figure 2: MedRec’s proposed architectural concept of a blockchain-based data sharing platform. Source: https://medrec.media.mit.edu/technical/

Figure 2: MedRec’s proposed architectural concept of a blockchain-based data sharing platform.
Source: https://medrec.media.mit.edu/technical/

This is a fascinating new area that could potentially bring portability of health data like never before while addressing the privacy concerns many people have. In countries where a legal framework for health data privacy is in its infancy, a trust framework could be built with a blockchain platform instead of a lengthy legal framework, thus enabling secure and user-controlled data sharing. We will continue this discussion in future columns. Please stay tuned.

Rajib Ghosh (rajib@health-roads.com) is the founder and CEO of Health Roads, LLC, a consulting company for enabling digital transformation in healthcare organizations. He has 25 years of technology experience in various industry verticals where he had management roles in software engineering, data analytics, program management, product management, business operations and strategy development. Ghosh spent a decade and half in the U.S. healthcare industry as part of a global ecosystem of medical device manufacturers, medical software vendors, telemedicine and telehealth solution providers. He’s held senior positions at Hill-Rom, Solta Medical and Bosch Healthcare. His recent work includes leading data-driven digital transformation in the public health space, including county-level healthcare agencies and organizations focused on underserved populations.

Analytics data science news articles

Related Posts

  • 74
    The CUNY School of Professional Studies is offering a new online master of science degree in data analytics. The program prepares its graduates for high-demand and fast-growing careers as data analysts, data specialists, business intelligence analysts, information analysts and data engineers in such fields as business, operations, marketing, social media,…
    Tags: data, analytics
  • 74
    Following the 2016 presidential election, the first two months of the new year were quite tumultuous for the U.S. healthcare system. Interestingly, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived so far, albeit the process to repeal the law has begun.
    Tags: healthcare, analytics, health, data
  • 68
    Benjamin Franklin offered this sage advice in the 18th century, but he left one key question unanswered: How? How do you successfully drive a business? More specifically, how do you develop the business strategy drivers that incite a business to grow and thrive? The 21st-century solution has proven to be…
    Tags: data, analytics
  • 67
    July/August 2018 Why optimization models fail AI: Path to an intelligent enterprise How to truly listen to customers Close the deal: marketing & targeting Bridging the data science gap The amazing analytics journey 2018 Forecasting Software Survey May/June 2018 The direction of smart automation Turbocharging AI and ML projects Real-time…
    Tags: analytics, data
  • 65
    The Israeli Ministry of Health recently agreed to reverse a blood donation policy and will now allow some Ethiopian immigrants, homosexuals and elderly people to donate blood. According to the Jerusalem Post, the change is a result of “new local and foreign epidemiological data and the improvement in medical technologies…
    Tags: health, analytics, healthcare


Headlines

Former INFORMS President Cook named to U.S. Census committee

Tom Cook, a former president of INFORMS, a founding partner of Decision Analytics International and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was recently named one of five new members of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC). The committee meets twice a year to address policy, research and technical issues relating to a full range of Census Bureau programs and activities, including census tests, policies and operations. The CSAC will meet for its fall 2018 meeting at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Md., Sept. 13-14. Read more →

Gartner identifies six barriers to becoming a digital business

As organizations continue to embrace digital transformation, they are finding that digital business is not as simple as buying the latest technology – it requires significant changes to culture and systems. A recent Gartner, Inc. survey found that only a small number of organizations have been able to successfully scale their digital initiatives beyond the experimentation and piloting stages. “The reality is that digital business demands different skills, working practices, organizational models and even cultures,” says Marcus Blosch, research vice president at Gartner. Read more →

Innovation and speculation drive stock market bubble activity

A group of data scientists conducted an in-depth analysis of major innovations and stock market bubbles from 1825 through 2000 and came away with novel takeaways of their own as they found some very distinctive patterns in the occurrence of bubbles over 175 years. The study authors detected bubbles in approximately 73 percent of the innovations they studied, revealing the close relationship between innovation and stock market bubbles. Read more →

UPCOMING ANALYTICS EVENTS

INFORMS-SPONSORED EVENTS

INFORMS Annual Meeting
Nov. 4-7, 2018, Phoenix

Winter Simulation Conference
Dec. 9-12, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden

OTHER EVENTS

Applied AI & Machine Learning | Comprehensive
Sept. 10-13, 17-20 and 24-25


Advancing the Analytics-Driven Organization
Sept. 17-20, 12-5 p.m. LIVE Online


The Analytics Clinic: Ensemble Models: Worth the Gains?
Sept. 20, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Predictive Analytics: Failure to Launch Webinar
Oct. 3, 11 a.m.


Advancing the Analytics-Driven Organization
Oct. 1-4, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.


Applied AI & Machine Learning | Comprehensive
Oct. 15-19, Washington, D.C.


Making Data Science Pay
Oct. 29 -30, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.


CAP® EXAM SCHEDULE

CAP® Exam computer-based testing sites are available in 700 locations worldwide. Take the exam close to home and on your schedule:


 
For more information, go to 
https://www.certifiedanalytics.org.