At Infosys, our focus on Healthcare is aimed at radical progress in affordability, wellness, and patient-centricity. We believe technology is a catalyst for game-changing healthcare solutions. In this blog, we discuss challenges, ideas, innovations, and solutions for the healthcare economy.

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March 31, 2013

Applications of Big Data in Healthcare - Part 5

With the introduction of health insurance exchanges, guaranteed issue will bring 35 million (approx.) new customers into the U.S. healthcare marketplace by 2016. It is highly likely most of them will have higher than average medical costs, thereby raising premiums for everyone in the insurance pool.  The onus will be on the individual members to take the ownership of their own healthcare expenditure and support the payors in controlling the rising premium. 
We will focus in this blog how the payors can involve the members more by introducing member centric programs in the plan design and how big data will be leveraged to provide the required intelligence to the payors to achieve it.

The member wellness and preventive care program is already a key focus area for the payors.  However, these programs need to be customized for the specific needs of the members rather than being offered as a generic program. In my point of view, following could be reasons why this is not very effective yet.
• The wellness and preventive programs are generic which might not suit to the needs of the members.
• The members who need specific programs often do not find those being offered by the payors or do not get the required incentives or mandates from the payors for adequate usage.
• The patients are often not knowledgeable on the needs of the wellness program so as to take it seriously.

If we analyze the problem critically, it can very well be inferred that payors usually lack the intelligence (information perspective) which will enable them to customize the wellness program for a member. With the help of Big Data analytics, the data, already available in abundance from multiple sources, can be analyzed to get the information on the risk exposure of an individual to certain diseases (current or in future). Utilizing this information, the payors can come up with the following.
• Design the wellness and preventive programs for a member.
• Come up with the incentive or penalty structure to encourage the member to take up these programs seriously.
• Continually educate members on the diseases and on the availability of the required preventive programs.

March 6, 2013

Role of Personalized Smart Phone Devices in Preventive Health Care

These days, lifestyle based health ailments are becoming a major cause of concern. Today we have many wellness mobile applications available in the market which provide fitness and wellness recommendations for the user. However, these applications follow a generic approach in the wellness recommendation they suggest based on a limited set of parameters like age, gender and weight. They do not take into account the food, lifestyle and health status of the user, thereby not providing a personalized approach to wellness and fitness.

Let us take an example of an elderly person who has cardiac ailments. He cannot be provided a recommendation of an excruciating fitness regime which can otherwise be recommended to a young and healthy individual. Therefore, to account for a higher degree of personalization, information regarding the personal traits of the user needs to be integrated with the application.

With technological advancements, we will see intelligent wellness applications replacing these generic ones. These smart apps are expected to address the problem in a multidimensional approach, including:

1. Tapping into the user's personal health record to get meaningful insight into the patient's personal, behavioral and clinical state. This will enable the application to recommend a personalized wellness / fitness regime for the user instead of a generic recommendation. Taking the same example as above, by factoring in this dimension, we can ensure that the cardiac patient is recommended a milder form of exercise considering his age and health pre-disposition compared to a healthy, young individual.

2. Monitoring real-time wellness data by suitably integrating with device sensors (such as GPS chipsets, accelerometer, gyroscope etc.) available within smart phones. For e.g., the GPS chipset can calculate speed of jogging, the accelerometer and gyroscope could help track the spatial orientations  thereby differentiating between activities such as pushups or climbing  a staircase etc. Inculcating such features into the application allows users to track the progress of their fitness objectives accurately.

3. Providing innovative, pro-active features (such as alerts and notifications), and thereby enhancing the user experience. For e.g., by integrating with the user's calendar, the application can pro-actively alert the users about an impending exercise schedule. GPS feature can be leveraged by the application to notify the user of prevalent infectious diseases when he travels to foreign locations.

Applications developed with this underlying approach will help in adding in the personalization factor. Further, by incentivizing the usage of such applications, health plans can ensure their increased adoption with their subscriber base. Creating such an ecosystem where the primary motivation is to keep the members and their families fit and healthy will also go a long way in reducing the overall healthcare costs of payers.