Intelligent Systems in Health

Posted By Garrett Clarke
Senior Business Development and Strategy Manager

As many of my colleagues have mentioned in their blogs over the past few months, we are seeing an increasing trend from autonomous devices toward ones that are truly connected and part of a much broader ecosystem. This shift in the embedded industry toward Intelligent Systems is further accelerated by the desire of enterprises to obtain a competitive advantage through increased knowledge about their customers and their business. It is truly an exciting time as the number of devices that are part of an Intelligent System is expected to nearly double by 2015 according to IDC. Clearly the application for Intelligent Systems spans many industries including Retail, Manufacturing, Auto, and Health. However, since I have spent the last 10 years (or so) working in healthcare, I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have on some usage scenarios of Intelligent Systems in health.

Enabling the Connection to the Patient at Home:
The impact that Intelligent Systems have on the healthcare has many similarities to that of other industries (i.e. reuse of data, cost reduction, timely access to information….) but it also has some distinct advantages. Most importantly, improved outcomes for patients. Many device manufacturers are now making devices that patients can use at home that will automatically connect the patient back to the provider or caregiver through the cloud. This streamlined integration increases the frequency that a provider or caregiver receives critical health metrics (blood pressure, blood glucose levels, weight, etc.). These “Connected Health” scenarios allows for greater collaboration across the provider, patient, and caregiver potentially allowing action to be taken prior to an acute event occurring.

Post Care and Reducing Preventable Readmissions:
Home health and telehealth devices that are connected as part of an Intelligent System can also help ensure that patients are not readmitted to a hospital after an acute health episode. In addition to the physical and emotional burden a readmission is on both the patient and family, a recent study from the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, found that Medicare payments per episode are more than double for patients that are readmitted. Earlier this year, Geisinger released findings that their remote patient monitoring program reduced hospital readmissions by 44%. Devices that are secure, managed, and connected allow providers and caregivers across the continuum of care to monitor the rehabilitation of a patient/family member ensuring that another acute event doesn’t occur.

Intelligent Systems in Hospitals and Clinics:
Prior to joining Microsoft, I had spent time working in an Emergency Department in Washington, DC. One of the critical challenges that we ran into was that many of the devices (ultrasound machines, BP monitors, vital sign readers, etc.) acted in a silo. As soon as an individual left that application or device, the data was essentially lost (or manually reentered into another system/patient’s record).  These devices contain critical data that can be reused across the organization to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and potentially…save lives.  Data captured from a device that is used in one department could be easily reused in another (i.e. the Infection Control, ER, Billing, Radiology, Operations, or Procurement). Even beyond the critical data collected on a patient, the usage information on when, by whom, and where devices are being used could help better inform the hospitals device buying and deployment decisions further reducing hospital costs.

Overall, we are seeing some amazing new Intelligent Systems scenarios across industries, our partners, and customers and I look forward to sharing some of these scenarios with you.

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