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 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.”
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.
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.
“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…
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.
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
Today we still have data stored like this:
Companies have enterprise systems with data cubes and traditional spreadsheets that need IT to extract the data:
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?
In December of 2011 I started using the Fitbit Ultra, a wearable wireless device, to help me watch my daily fitness (or lack of exercise).
I do not claim to be an athlete, my personal goals are to live a more active and healthy life. So this month’s blog post is all around the use of these devices.
The Fitbit Ultra is one of a few devices now on the market (refer to 3 New Fitness Gadgets).
These devices look to answer three things, in my opinion:
- A monitor for your health and activity
- Provide feedback if you ‘are exercising enough’
- Single source of ‘personal data’
I offer IT services consulting advice within the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. So I have an interest in this area. My daily routine changes, as is the case, between travel and office work – team projects (request for proposal (RFP) activity and orals presentation preparation) to new client meetings. Like any consultant or sales rep a life on the road and in the office. Not to mention finding time for this blog and added social media activity. As an early adopter of this technology I was debating between the Up from Jawbone or the Fitbit Ultra. With Jawbone having manufacturing difficulty I settled on the Fitbit Ultra. Not a bad choice in my opinion.
A monitor for your health and activity
This ‘wearable’ device is small and compact. All you need to do is to remember to wear the device as part of your daily and evening routine. The Fitbit is not waterproof nor does it contain a GPS device. I like the fact that the Fitbit can be worn while you sleep and offers you feedback on your sleeping patterns.
Are you exercising enough?
I am not an athlete yet I want to make a healthy lifestyle. The value in monitoring my daily routine is so that I can ‘change it up’ to include some form of exercise. When I’m working from home I can go for a jog or do some yoga. Of course when you’re traveling this can disrupt your routine, and I find myself to easily distracted and may forget to run or do some yoga. For the serious runners out there you may want to supplement the Fitbit with apps like RunKeeper which uses the GPS found in the iPhone to give exact distance and time recordings.
Single source of data
The biggest draw for me with the Fitbit is that you can enter daily information via your smartphone or from your laptop. The device requires that you synchronize the content of the data from the Fitbit to your account via a USB connected sensor. The Fitbit will keep up to three days worth of data. Here is a snapshot of a standard report that summarizes my activities:
The Future of Medicine?
In the latest product announcement for Nike and their Fuel device “By 2017: 170M wearable wireless health and fitness devices. Monitoring your health with mobile devices will be the next improvement in healthcare for all of us. We will see the next iterations of these devices as they get smaller and provide more connectivity via apps that can combine your personal data. I like using this device and for now it meets my health goals.
Most of us are excited about the changes occurring in healthcare around mobile applications, electronic health records and the advent of social media just to name a few examples. Yet there is a mounting concern with the rise of drug shortages now reported at “178 a 3x rise since 2005!” A look at the FDA web site for drug shortages shows a list of both generics and branded products with the reasons for the shortages (including manufacturing delays, increase in demand, etc.). We’ll look at the background of the industry, the traditional view of supply chain, current factors facing the industry, and what companies can do to ‘improve’ their operations. Recognizing the need to convert your improve your existing operations will be good business and the consequences will directly impact you and I.
Key facts about the industry
According to IMS Health pharmaceuticals sales in 2011 is expected to reach 880 to 890Billion USD, which is a growth of 5 to 7%, and is 1% higher than the 2010 expectations. The current view of the supply chain includes:
- In the US market the top 10 pharmaceutical companies give some 60% of the total US sales.
- As products come off patent Generics control the prices of these products.
- The wholesalers may also negotiate prices between the manufacturers and the Pharmacies.
The traditional view of the supply chain
The driver for any supply chain is to offer:
- Product at a ‘reduced’ cost
- Faster to market
- Delivered at a high quality
Apply this to the previous diagram and you can see the challenges that face healthcare. As the view of the patient and pricing for these products are disconnected. This diagram gives you the full view of the Healthcare supply chain:
Current factors influencing the industry and the Healthcare supply chain
The following factors have influenced the market:
- Mergers and Acquisitions – have reduced the number of manufacturers as companies have consolidated to make up for the loss in patent expiry and look to increase market share (Merck and Shering Plough, Pfizer and Wyeth, and Teva and Barr Labs are just a few examples)
- Regulatory issues – it is harder for manufacturing sites to recover from an FDA violation. This delay can lead to drug delivery delays.
- Government control over pricing – as the cost of healthcare rises many governments are dictating the price of drugs (Spain, Canada, Turkey and Greece). This puts the supplier at a disadvantage to be able to deliver products at these ‘reduced’ prices given the cost for raw materials.
- Globalization – in response to some of these factors many companies have already moved their operations to off-shore locations. India for API manufacturing.
- Risk Management – having the ability to ‘view’ any of these problems can lead to drug shortages. Supply chain operations must therefore give this visibility so the right changes can be made.
Taking these factors into account and with a view of the ‘future’ of the healthcare supply chain from Gartner:
How can I ‘improve’ my operations?
I now work with a variety of companies that look for solutions to ‘improve’ their processes. We began his discussion trying to understand why there are so many drug shortages, and I would suggest the following as a means of enhancing your supply chain operations:
- Refocus business growth and performance across the entire healthcare supply chain. This includes both the patient as providers of healthcare with a C level sponsor that understands that the aspects of healthcare lie outside of your companies boundaries.
- Collaboration. Look to improve demand from both your suppliers as well as your customers. Provide visibility and metrics that you can mutually share.
- Leverage IT as an enabler to meet the first two points. Make investments that promote organizational visibility. Specifically analytics solutions that provides management with a view the business as a result of this investment.
- Governance. This process does not happen overnight. Change management is an ongoing process and you will need leadership and support to sustain these processes as they evolve over time.
- Invest in skills and talent within your organization. I’m in the IT services business and you would think this takes away from my opportunities. There is a tendency to think that these processes can be solved through off-shore support capability. While this is true I am taking about the need to enhance your folk’s ability to understand the entire healthcare supply chain.
I am convinced healthcare can improve yet the threat of drug shortages can impact any course of treatment if the right products are not available. What I hope to do with this blog post is a summary of the problem and possible solution. I welcome your suggestions or comments to improving this blog post.
We are not at a point where we can effectively: total, safely protect, easily transport and access our health data. I read a great article by Margalit Gur-Arie entitled, “Trust your life records to an unnamed chain of software vendors” she uses an analogy of our current banking system to emphasize how far away we are from gaining the trust around our health records data. Great article and highly recommended. This got me thinking about how we manage our data today?
The current focus on the use of smartphones and tablets are mainly for the physicians and nurses. We have yet to discuss the needs of the patients? My personal experience in daily work routines, writing my blogs and using smartphones indicates we are still evolving. There are some models of storing data that could promote greater adoption of data management that would help accelerate the use of technology for managing healthcare data.
A few weeks ago I had accidentally dropped my laptop. You know those moments when you’re traveling for business and just happened to let your device slip from your hands. This damaged the LCD display rendering my laptop useless as I was not able to use my data. For the next week I struggled to work effectively, and yes I do keep up a back-up of my data. So I had to cart around my portable drive with my files to a desktop with Internet access, and rely more heavily on my smartphone.
Bottom line from this experience is that smartphones are still not the answer to managing my data. I still rely on apps to do my daily work routines. There needs to be alternatives to managing apps and data across several devices.
Managing your health records
My brother is a kidney transplant recipient. In my earlier blog “Fresh start in 2011” I mentioned how thankful I am for his life. Those of you that have a relative who has undergone these kinds of operations you know that there is a daily regimen of medications to keep the body from rejecting the foreign organ. Have you seen the amount of ‘paper’ data from all the specialists and physicians it takes to keep this all in balance? Even with a dedicated intern whose job it is to check and analyze this data still takes a few hours just to make a ‘minor’ medication adjustment!
There are some apps on the market that address specific medical data: heart monitoring, diabetes tracking, etc. I would be very interested in a personal health record (PHR) that can sum the data from multiple sources?
Smartphones and Tablets – we’re still developing
iPhone versus Android. The iPad versus the latest set of tablets. Earlier this week I posed several questions at the 2011 mHealth Trends (HIMSS Preview) webinar with Brian Dolan (@mobilehealth) and John Moore (@john_chilmark). These devices are still evolving in the market and while it is getting easier to check health data via individual apps we are not addressing the issue of managing the complete portfolio (or checkbook) of your health data?
Later this year the iPhone 5 will be out on the market. As well as an update to the popular iPad tablet. The market is evolving with devices that are easier to use and much more powerful. We have come a long way since the bag phone and netbooks.
How can we digest all of these changes – what is still missing?
There are ways to manage your data on multiple devices. Mobileme (www.apple.com/mobileme/) from Apple is a good example of how their devices can have data synched via the Internet for email, contacts and files. There are apps like SimpleNote (www.simplenoteapp.com) that allows you to support ideas using any smartphone and allow you to reach these ideas, in my case, via the laptop. The idea is that with a little effort I can avoid the unintended consequences of the loss on one device leveraging cloud computing as the repository for my data.
We are still not there when it comes to health records. Since the sources of the data come from a variety of sources. Physicians will soon be using electronic health records. Now the challenge will be how do patients aggregate this data? Can’t say I have a good answer for this based on some of the personal health records I’ve tested.
I would be interested if someone has found a ‘true’ personal health record that can be maintained on multiple devices and allow me to summarize my results data. Once this is in place we can then address the issues of security and portability. In the meantime my daily work is in helping Life Sciences companies’ leverage how an individual can use, analyze and get this data via a variety of devices. I am optimistic that we will see a day when software vendors in the healthcare space act like banks and financial institutes. Though I can’t see how the ATMs fit in all this…..who knows?