Predictive analytics biz provides healthcare insights to patients, care managers, institution heads

IBM Watson’s acquisition of Explorys as part of its big announcement at HIMSS this week underscores the growing importance of effective big data analytics tools in healthcare. It also speaks to their perceived value as a way to help patients with chronic conditions avoid incurring unnecessary healthcare costs. CognitiveScale was launched in 2013 by Matt […]

IBM Watson’s acquisition of Explorys as part of its big announcement at HIMSS this week underscores the growing importance of effective big data analytics tools in healthcare. It also speaks to their perceived value as a way to help patients with chronic conditions avoid incurring unnecessary healthcare costs.

CognitiveScale was launched in 2013 by Matt Sanchez, the CTO and the founder of IBMWatson Labs — the research and development arm of IBM’s commercial Watson Solutions division. It develops clinical, patient-facing and administrative tools that use a combination of structured and unstructured data from clinical, social, public sources and devices to generate personalized insights for individual patients and an institutions patient populations. Its uses artificial intelligence as part of a process for developing these personalized insights on patients’ care.

The Austin-based company counts IBMWatson and IBM Bluemix — its app development arm — among its partners.

Charles Barnett heads up the company’s healthcare group. He previously served as CEO of Seton Healthcare Family and president of healthcare operations with Ascension Health. In a phone interview with MedCity News, Barnett talked about the implications of these tools and how they can shift how care is managed. He said that a good deal of the company’s offerings are best suited to organizations offering care management as a service — organizations that have incentives to keep patients as healthy as possible and out of the hospital. “Those are the clients who find this technology the most attractive and who we talk to the most.”

Its healthcare analytics platform launched at HIMSS this week, Guided Care Insights, has three different applications that are each aimed at different parts of the healthcare system from the patient (Concierge) to clinical decision support tools for care managers (Adviser) to the head of the institution (Explorer).

Barnett highlighted a pilot study with Children’s Medical Center of Dallas that involved Guided Care Adviser and Guided Care Concierge. The adviser tool is designed to give care managers personalized insights about their patients and patient populations from clinical, social, environmental and socio-economic data to reduce avoidable hospitalizations. He explained that doctors used the application to assess how many of their asthma patients had repeated emergency room visits.

The concierge tool was provided to families to mine public data such as the zip code where the families live as a way of tracking potential aggravators like a high pollen count. It can do projections on pollen count to inform parents when they should keep their kids inside or to identify hotspots in their neighborhood to avoid.

The company is also working with MD Anderson to apply its Concierge application to its patient portal MyMDA to connect patients with their care teams. Patients can also use the application to log their diet and activities and receive alerts when they need to take their medication. The app is personalized to the patient’s specific healthcare needs and uses the most up to date information on the patient’s conditions including recent test results, chronic illnesses, dietary issues, and allergies

Barnett noted that with 157 million Americans expected to have chronic conditions by 2020, there’s a real need to equip healthcare facilities with the kind of predictive analytics tools they need to make the transition from fee-for-service to an outcomes-based care model.

“There is a tidal wave of individuals with chronic conditions heading toward us,” Barnett said. “The technology we have can be used by organizations to provide a safety net.”

Barnett added that it has a lot of proposals to improve the care of diabetes patients.

It’s fair to say that healthcare institutions are in various stages of readiness to adopt healthcare analytics tools that could help health systems and insurers better manage their chronic care patients. Barnett who has been in healthcare administration for 37 years, said he sees healthcare organizations split into three stages of acceptance for the need for this technology.

“One group believes nothing will change and somehow the tools developed to reduce the cost of care are temporary and this is a trend that will pass. A middle group sees the need to begin to test these tools and figure out which ones will give them the ability to use them to reduce healthcare costs. The advanced group is in the process of comparing these technologies. We see that in some of the most progressive institutions we work with — the notion that this cognitive technology has so much potential.”

Update Asked how the IBM Watson acquisitions will affect the business. CEO Akshay Sabhikhi said Explorys and Phytel would complement its Cognitive Healthcare Guided Care Insights solution. “Explorys is a big data platform for healthcare clinical, claims, billing, accounting data.  Explorys can be a good source of data into CognitiveScale’s Healthcare Cognitive Cloud…The end result is a ‘Waze-like’ delivery of personalized, composite insights to patients and care teams for managing a patient’s journey through chronic diseases.

He added that Phytel provides models for gaps in care for diabetes. “We would then invoke their diabetes model along with other disease models that we have or our clients have, to generate composite insights within our Guided Care Insights suite.”

 

[Photo credit: Photo from Flickr user Infocux Technologies]