NPR recently published a fascinating article about the origins of big data and its evolution in healthcare. The story begins with an introduction to John Graunt, a 17th-century British statistician. Graunt’s creation of death records, compiled into tables that included disease, age, gender, location and time, were groundbreaking at the time. This was the birth of modern demography, epidemiology and the concept of big data.
Today, the topic of epidemiology is exploding as our industry tries to combat the issue of chronic disease. The patterns that are uncovered by big data are helping doctors realize more and more that preventive health measures like regular exercise and stress reduction are safer, more beneficial and cost-effective both for patients and for our industry in the long run. This is proactive care in a nutshell- using data to take action before a situation arises or new symptoms occur. It is the holy grail of healthcare transformation and sustainability.
Stopping preventable injury and death among patients in our care should be just as paramount. As we discussed in a recent blog post, 85-99% of device alarms sounding for no clinically relevant reason. The danger is very real that nurses and hospital staff will miss that crucial alarm indicating a patient is in true distress, and it is no surprise that alarm management seems entrenched on the ECRI Institute’s list of top 10 health technology hazards.
Whereas shifting from a reactive healthcare model to a proactive one will require many more years of coordinated effort and infrastructure shifts, the ability to shift to proactive, real-time patient care is here, now. It all starts on the front lines, by equipping nurses with the real-time communication tools that make alarm fatigue and high stakes guesswork a thing of the past. Technology that illuminates the care path of any given patient, forms patterns in the chaos, and empowers your staff with the freedom to be proactive—ultimately saving lives and costly mistakes.
The technology available today allows us to build on the historic notion of using big data to improve healthcare like never before. As we continue to look to the future, we cannot overlook the building blocks that are available now to elevate our industry to a culture of proactive, real-time care.