Big Data in Healthcare and Life Sciences

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The focus of this blog post is to begin to place analytics as the key capability and business improvement for the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. I will look to give other blog posts on database types as a prelude to the pending wave around the Internet of Things (#IoT). We all know the term #BigData, and if you do a search within LinkedIn you find many articles on the topic. I want to focus on the buyers of big data solutions to solve problems specific to Life Sciences and Healthcare companies. I’ll provide the background and the types of solutions you may need to discuss with this technology.

Big Data

Big players look to improve their product offerings

A few days ago I had read with interest an article entitled “Big incumbents target big updates in big data bonanza.” The focus of the piece was how Oracle, HP and IBM were releasing updates around their big data portfolios. They include SQL, plus Hadoop, and NoSQL, and according to Dan Vesset from IDC there is no one technology that addresses all the analytics use cases. Why does this matter to Healthcare and Life Sciences?

Having a ‘unified’ data platform will be part of the industry’s analytics strategy. With so much data you need a plan that supports future search and analysis ability within your companies. IDC predicts that the overall market in 2015 to reach $125B. With Healthcare and Life Sciences to have a significant part of this market. IDC tells us that we have until 2017 to have this in place, with the Internet of Things (IoT) having a real influence when it comes to healthcare and new product innovation.

Winners and Losers in the Big Data wars

I recommend you read this great article by Brian Sommer (@Brianssommer) “The Big Data Wars – will your company prevail? Part1” and there is a “Part2.”

Four kinds of Big Data users

I would contend that if you read this blog post you are either involved in analytics or providing advice for clients on this topic. So it is helpful to know where you, and your company or client sits if you agree with the previous paragraph. While the article covers generalities I would like to propose the same viewpoint for Healthcare and Life Sciences companies.

Where do you land in the Big Data wars?     

“Wasters – companies that have access to big, external data but don’t do enough with it.” In attempting to comply with US healthcare regulations there are hospital systems that have implemented IT systems to capture data (meaningful use compliance). Have these systems provided valuable feedback to help ‘improve’ healthcare? Can data from within a hospital room be leveraged to improve healthcare for the patient? Depending on the healthcare system it is debatable, and yet it can lead to competitive healthcare improvements.

Healthcare

Conversely, Medical Device companies have to store patient related data as per regulations – are you missing an opportunity to leverage long-term historical facts to give advice for new devices? Pharmaceuticals could be connecting clinical trials data with data from wearables (I would suggest this will happen sooner than later) or doctors notes to offer greater insights into the outcome of new and existing medicines.

“Losers – These firms couldn’t be bothered by the emergence of big data.” Yes there are small group of companies that see data as a nuisance. Their happy with the way their data works today so why bother with looking at more data. To be sure not to find you in this box look at both the technology and organizational change, yet I will leave that for another blog post.

“ERP Masters – Leveraging transactional data beyond the four walls of your company.” I like Brian’s diagram because I come from several years of working with enterprise systems big data forces us to look beyond the four wall of the back office. Yes it is all about ‘integrating’ external data for more insight for the business.

  • Life Sciences companies would extend ERP systems into the clinical trial process to tie manufacturing quality and product traceability through to the delivery of the products to the patients and hospital storage locations.
  • Hospitals that look to become more profitable will look to extend patient records to include ‘remote/home’ data as a necessary next step in providing ‘value’ in the recovery process. Today’s hospital systems have yet to extend this far into healthcare.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will have a significant big data impact through the Life Sciences and Healthcare value chain. ERP systems are not designed to support data collection nor analysis of data.

life sciences

“Winners – These firms know more, understand more and want more.” I’ve not referenced the payers in this discussion, and that is because they take full advantage of big data to help devise healthcare plans and payment plans. Big data should be viewed and planned as a competitive advantage. Do you feel you company or clients are using big data as a spirited market advantage? Brian said it best, “They know that insights mean money, market share and margin.”

Let me know what you think? Agree or disagree…

Thanks,

Jim

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Life Sciences Industry Cloud

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As we begin the New Year we’ve gone through our resolutions. Now the focus for us is to gain a fast start 2015 loadingand the aim of this first blog post around the idea of the Life Sciences Industry Cloud. I’ll provide the background and challenges you will face, and what you could consider that will put IT in a position to help meet your business goals.

Background: The Enterprise in 2015 

Cloud computing has been often discussed as the innovation option for Life Sciences companies. Back on September 7th, 2014 I wrote about an initial way of getting into cloud via Testing in Planning your Move to the Cloud? as an option to get the organization used to using cloud applications.

I read an interesting article from Alison Wagonfeld (@awagonfeld) The Enterprise in 2015. Which takes an investor’s perspective on technology trends for the Enterprise, and the focus on “industry cloud” applications. The article points our examples from Salesforce and Veeva of applications that can be rapidly deployed and consumed by business users. This puts Enterprise software vendors in a place to play catch-up with two distinct reactions/approaches. One is to buy up point solutions, and leave the integrations to the systems integrators (SIs) or the end-user. Cloud applications are easy to deploy the key here is to make sure you plan out the business process. The second being a hybrid approach where part of the solution is deployed as ‘on-demand’ (in the cloud) and integrated with the rest of the back office application (on-premise). This forces the end-user to rely on their SI to have the right resources and plan for every interface and data point.

Software challenges 

There is a nice summary on the software challenges we will face as we seek to improve the business with technology. Lora Cercere’s (@lcecere) article “Undeniable Truths of Software” provides some very good perspectives on the challenges that Enterprise Software vendors face. She describes a variety of challenges with software companies.

Because the cloud vendors come at the problem from the user side it is easier to create a solution with no back-end integration. The challenge for the Enterprise Software vendors is do they re-write the application or develop only a portion of the business process. There are some Life Sciences clients that are waiting to see how the enterprise software vendors respond to the challenge from cloud applications. There are other considerations from a business user perspective that is driving these discussions*.

Electric plug

[*I will look at the issues with Big Data and Mobility in another blog post.]

Best practices that allows you to leverage cloud applications

Prior to cloud applications the focus was on ‘best practices’ for each industry. I contend that we have to resurrect these processes as a guide to reaching the Life Sciences Industry Cloud.

Working industry cloud

The focus should be on the business process and the integration points needed to offer the complete process for the end-user. This allows for an easier time to ‘validate’ the process. In 2015 we are at a point where business users are clamoring for IT to improve the business. The benefits are as follows:

  • Enterprise software vendors can pick which part of the business process to move into the cloud or stay on-premise. Timing for all this is inevitable as the users of the solutions prioritize business process that give the highest benefits and can rank them so.
  • System Integrators (SIs) will have to live with the fact that deploying cloud applications are more about the experienced resources used in faster and quicker projects than long program deployments. Done well repeat business will help drive net new opportunities.
  • Clients need to become more aware of the users and how they work to give the right business process. Change should be the motive in all this – failure to recognize this will lead IT to fall out of favor with the business.

For many customers the move into cloud applications can be daunting given the investment in on-premise software applications. Today’s users want to work more efficiently and have already personal experience with cloud applications. The goal for 2015 is how well you can adopt the Life Sciences Industry Cloud into your organizations.

Let me know what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

2014 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Looking forward to 2015…..

Thanks,

Jim

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 490 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Can Technology solve the Big Data / Analytics skills gap?

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Recent articles and tweets emphasize that Big Data, or Analytics, would improve the bottom line for a company as long as they are prepared to take advantage of this benefit. Some Life Sciences (those that offer pharmaceuticals and medical devices products) and Healthcare companies have a need for new tools if they are going to take full advantage of Big Data. Today companies have enterprise systems that need IT people to give the requisite report or summary analysis. Newer analytics tools like Tableau Software compliment the installed base of enterprise software with the added benefit of an intuitive way of doing user analysis that focuses more on collaboration and portability.

Backdrop

The key benefits from Big Data for Healthcare (and I will include Life Sciences in this because of the connection to pricing/payments) includes*:

  • Improvements in Drug Trial Safety
  • Disease surveillance
  • Prescribed treatments
  • Patient Outcomes

*MeriTalk and EMC recently surveyed 150 Federal executives on healthcare and healthcare research to find out if Big Data is the cure.

Today we still have data stored like this:

HEALTHCARE/DOCTORS

Companies have enterprise systems with data cubes and traditional spreadsheets that need IT to extract the data:

acos-big-data-healthcare-300x225

So how can I prioritize?

I agree with the opinion of Dr. Rado Kotorov in his article “The CIOs Top 3 priorities for 2015”:

  • The CIO role will transform from a technology leader to a business leader
  • Manage data as the enterprise’s most valuable strategic asset
  • Make Business Intelligence (BI) pervasive and ubiquitous

Consider the following

Change is imminent so consider a tool that your users can easily leverage to do key analysis, and I don’t mean Excel spreadsheets or Access database. Yesterday I went through a demo of the Tableau software (rank high in terms of “Ability to Execute” and as a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics). In summary they have solved the problem of connecting to multiple source systems. The product is also easy to set-up and more importantly provides a means to allow for collaboration with others.

In my opinion, reaping the benefit of Big Data means finding ways to turn IT systems to supporting the users to help the business. As leaders in the industry you need to find ways to allow users to unleash their creativity and help the organization analyze and solve business problems. This may mean an additional cost in the short-term. Alternatively you can wait for the right resources or invest in replacing key parts of your enterprise landscape – either choice may not be as appealing as selecting tools to make data analysis easier. I would recommend Tableau Software

Would you agree I am open to your opinion, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

Planning your Move to the Cloud?

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For most IT departments supporting the business with new functionality
means planning a move to the ‘cloud.’ With most ofmoving to the cloud the Enterprise software vendors are now offering their solutions via the cloud. In this blog post, I will present some the most commons myths against the use of ‘cloud computing’ and offer a common Testing application to help you and your organization get experience with ‘cloud computing.’

 

What is holding you back from moving to the cloud…?

Today as you read this blog post you most likely have your personal data in the cloud. Costs for storage have been dropping, and recently my Dropbox account went from 100GB to 1TB for the same monthly fee! So what is holding organizations back from moving to the ‘cloud?’

  • Compliance – Life Sciences companies have the need to perform computer system validation (CSV). Very often the push back is around how to define the systems and processes.
    • Drawing a line around the components and defining the connections between the applications helps to focus on what needs to be validated. Once you define this as part of your process – the validation and documentation that you used with your legacy systems remain the same. Just because you have a part or all of your process in the cloud should not hold you back from performing CSV on your process.
  • Data security – there is still a ‘fear’ that going to the cloud means a less secure IT environment.
    • Overcoming this fear is to look at how you currently access your data. I work closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Where the concept of a ‘private cloud’ is certainly an option in protecting access to your data. In short, this is a direct connection between your IT landscape and the cloud servers.
    • Another way of overcoming this fear is via industry examples, and thanks to Andy Waroma and the folks at Cloud Comrade here is a link to an article “Amazon Web Services becomes first cloud provider to handle sensitive US defense data” So if the US Defense industry can use cloud services it most certainly can be leveraged for your application data.
  • Cost – what are the savings from moving to the cloud?
    • We have been accustomed to a cycle of Capital requests for software and hardware on an annual basis, and support costs is an on-going expense.
    • In working with my clients comparing the overall costs – moving to the cloud can bring down the overall support costs by 2X!
    • The added benefit from a move to the cloud is the flexibility it can bring to your current IT landscape. This is where you need to get some experience with cloud computing to gain further insight in this area. We will discuss this next.

 cloud-computing

Typical IT Landscape

For purposes of this discussion we will focus on an SAP landscape. The situation is where you want to add additional users to an existing landscape of ERP, Business Warehouse (BW) and NetWeaver. What you would do is to test the performance of your applications with the increased user count.

For my client we provide Testing services and invariably we have to request additional hardware to ‘simulate’ this environment. The solution is to provide….

 

Performance Testing in the Cloud

Consider the use of cloud computing services for “Performance Testing” to achieve the following experience:

  1. Requires a discussion on connecting your IT landscape to Amazon Web Services or similar provider. This will ensure and test the security around your data. Direct Connection versus Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  2. Server sizing and set-up that is similar to your landscape. Please note: the hardware will not be exactly what you currently have in your landscape.
  3. Have your IT department provide Basis support for performing client copies and any software application changes you need to simulate in the cloud. If you don’t have the resources available you can ask your systems integrator to provide this service for you.
  4. Costs – include a one-time setup – an operating cost and cost for when you don’t run you’re ‘performance testing.’ Your costs will vary based on your needs.

data-server-cloud

In summary, moving to the cloud should be part of your annual IT project planning. You can work through your Compliance and Data Security needs. The goal should be a move to shift your overall support cost from maintaining your hardware to an operating cost that will allow for expansion of your IT landscape to meet the increasing needs of the business.

In discussing this with clients that have the ‘traditional’ server centers there is a hesitance to move to the cloud. I would recommend you look to do your ‘performance testing’ in the cloud to give you and your IT team the experience in working with cloud computing services. The benefits can be realized very quickly.

I am open to your feedback, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

Are you Effectively using Big Data?

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Since the market introduced this term we’ve tried to make a distinction between data and ‘more’ Using Big-Data
data. In my opinion all data is ‘big data.’ That the challenge for IT departments is how to ‘quickly’ turn these new sources of data into ‘value’ for the business. In this blog post I’ll explain where we are with big data – illustrate the issues and propose a solution.

Backdrop

Within Life Sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) ‘big data’ has been in place for quite some time. Most companies have had to address the challenges of managing data for instance:

  • Financial data – this would include your typical data for operating your company. There are additional complexities from a sales and rebate perspective along with cross border/country tax issues for products.
  • Supply Chain data – includes your typical sales and operations data plus the traceability of packaged pharmaceuticals or individual devices.
  • Clinical trials data – generating data that needs to be translated into information for product approval as well as storing data for adverse events analysis.

Government regulations influence how companies manage data. Most firms are required to maintain patient data for the life of the user. Managing data is also part of any legal defense in the event of product failures in the field, and the random audit from the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

 

Influences

If Life Sciences companies maintain their data we are dealing with large repositories of data. What are influencing IT departments are the changes in today’s markets, for instance:

  • Mergers and Acquisitions – most companies are prepared for this both from a due diligence prior to the acquisition. In most cases there is a common set of financial and supply chain information that is shared until an IT decision is made to absorb, or let stand, the IT landscape of the acquired company. There are a few firms that still operate in a mixed IT environment. So this can be a challenge without the right strategy for reporting and analytics.
  • Mobile devices – we’ve already been made aware of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. Besides the security aspects of these devices. Data needs to be made available at various levels of the organization. This is a topic that most IT departments are struggling with, and an area that requires a strategy with feedback from your users.
  • Digital Marketing or Business Insights – we should be aware that ‘social media’ is having a huge impact on Marketing. The advent of these new tools and data sources (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) poses several data questions:
    • How do we analyze and treat these new sources of customer/patient feedback?
    • With more and more doctors using tablets how do we get our product messages to them, and can we measure the impact on our market share?
    • How do I plan for this additional explosion of data because we still have the existing ‘structured’ data, and now we are adding new sources of ‘unstructured’ data?
    • Marketing and Business folks are asking for this information for further analysis? IT has to decide on the tools and methods to perform this analysis.

structured and unstructured data

So are you effectively using ‘bigdata,’ and if not what plans do you have to support the business and your company’s growth targets?

Your Strategy

Reporting Strategy and Elastic Analytics

If you are in this situation there is a need to prepare your ‘reporting strategy.’ Typically this is a 6 to 8 week exercise to identify the business needs and match this against your current IT landscape and solutions. I often recommend this exercise because if you have this strategy in place you can leverage this output for funding needs, new tools, etc., as well as a discussion with the business. Focus on immediate pain points and demonstrate ‘quick wins’ will go a long way to ensuring that IT is still a strategic influence within your organizations.

Yet even if you have you’re strategy in place you may need to move faster to help the business. At Capgemini we have introduced a solution called ‘elastic analytics.’ The link below is a video which provides a high level summary for this offering.

 Capgemini Elastic Analytics video

Elastic Analytics helps IT with the following:

  1.  If the deployment of your reporting strategy is a lengthy process then elastic analytics can provide you with ‘quick wins’ that demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to reporting and analytics. All you need to do is provide the data and we will process this into information served up in a variety of outputs (from a dashboard to a screen on a Smartphone or tablet).
  2. Let’s say you want to ‘test’ out different analytics tools using your data. Using elastic analytics there is no need for you to invest in and take time out for product demos. This landscape includes most of the leading products on the market. This allows you the freedom to test your data on multiple products.
  3. Maybe there is no in-house expertise when it comes to the science of converting data into meaningful information. Within this offering we have up 250 data scientists that can help you correlate your data into relevant business information.

In summary, if all data is big date then are you using this ‘effectively?’  There are various reasons for companies to look into changing their approach to reporting and analytics. What I’ve explained is available today, and I hope this helps you decide how best to approach your problem.

I am open to your feedback or suggestions, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

Staying organized with Trello

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In this blog post, I wanted to focus on productivity tools to help make our digital lives easier. Most of us have multiple devices: laptop, smartphone and possibly a tablet. We work across multiple projects: supporting our clients, collaborating with co-workers. We also have to manage our home and work life. Here is where Trello comes into play. https://trello.com

Advertised as “the fastest, easiest way to organize anything…” Highly recommended and here is why:

1. Managing multiple projects: The old way is not a match for the mobile user.

I’ve found that most written to do lists are static and hard to track. Let’s face it most of us are visual, and we are juggling lots of projects and activities. I’ve moved from carrying a small notebook to this foam board, and very similar to a Kanban board for you supply chain folks. Looks great – easy to step back and see the big picture.

Foam Board
Foam Board

The downside to this is the ability to generate checklists per each entry. Adding attachments is difficult. Most importantly it’s at home and I’m on the road, and it is hard for my colleagues to keep up with any changes.

2. Maintain multiple projects anywhere, anytime.

Trello works on my Smartphone,

iPhone 5s
iPhone 5s
Inside Trello on my iPhone
Inside Trello on my iPhone

tablet, and

Trello on my tablet
Trello on my tablet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same screen as on my smartphone
Same screen as on my smartphone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laptop. (I use a PC for work and an Apple Mac Book Air for personal use).

Trello start screen on the MacBook Air
Trello start screen on the MacBook Air

 

Notice the similarities
Notice the similarities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Trello is easy to support.

Using their “Welcome Board” you can easily learn a use this product, and have your work projects and personal activities organized quickly. You can manage board colors, labels, and move through a progression of activities starting with a To Do list – Doing list – and a Done list. Want to make your own set of lists – Trello is easily modified.

My next steps are to test this next week when I’m traveling, and in meetings. I will be collaborating with my colleagues on key activities. I make extensive use of the checklists and attachments to help progress these projects.

If you do use this let me know how this works out for you?

Thanks,

Jim