Big Data – a big bang for the health system?

“The use of Big Data in health is a revolution that is inescapable and will have an extremely significant structural impact on the health system in general,” believes Dr Eric Baseilhac, Director of Economic Affairs at Leem, one of the main associations of pharmaceuticals manufacturers.
Big data = big bang? Everything could change: how care is organised, the relationship between patients – who become active participants in their own health – and doctors, the financial balance of the system, and more. We take a look at five start-ups that highlight the paradigm shift taking place in the world of medicine.
Remote monitoring: with Cordiva, scales become a heavyweight ally
What if it was enough to step on the scales every day and answer a few questions on topics such as breathlessness, tiredness and sleep problems to stop people from being hospitalised for heart failure? That’s the idea that home monitoring programme Cordiva, developed by Alere, is testing. The data is automatically transmitted and analysed, triggering an alert whenever values head off course. Patients whose heart doesn’t pump enough blood to meet their body’s needs could receive care before their illness worsens.
Already tested by around 60,000 patients in the United States and Germany, the device seems to have already proven itself : a study carried out between 2007 and 2010, including patients from Bavaria and the Berlin region, concluded that people who were monitored by Cordiva went to hospital less often (28.3% reduction in re-hospitalisation rates). Several clinical trials are under way in France, including the Osicat programme led by Toulouse University Hospital. If the results are conclusive, the French health insurance scheme could decide to reimburse patients for the cost of the device and bank on future savings: the 200,000 hospital stays every year alone represent over 60% of the total cost of illness.
Telemedicine: the right dose of insulin at the right time with Diabéo
Diabéo describes itself as an electronic monitoring file for patients with diabetes. The principle is as easy as pie: before each meal, patients fill in their blood sugar levels and what they are planning on eating. The application then calculates the dose of insulin they require, taking their physical activity into account. If the results are worrying, a healthcare team to whom the data is sent can perform a remote consultation as soon as possible.
The application – developed by Sanofi with the start-up Voluntis and the French Centre for Studies and Research into Diabetes Treatment Intensification (CERITD), an organisation attached to the Southern Paris Region Hospital – is currently only available for patients involved in a clinical trial. In the long term, it could be made even simpler, with the app analysing a meal’s composition based on a photo. Google’s involvement – it has been working with Sanofi since summer 2015 – could speed up research. Not to mention making the issue of data confidentiality even more relevant.
Diagnostic help: artificial intelligence supporting doctors with Khresterion
The start-up Khresterion has published a software programme designed to help the decision-making process in a medical setting. The artificial intelligence it has developed works a bit like the Watson supercomputer, which, according to its manufacturer, IBM, is capable of processing the entire scientific literature on a disease as well as patient data (history, symptoms, doctors’ notes, etc.) in just a few minutes. In both cases, the system compares the options and analyses their advantages and disadvantages, as well as the potential side effects, based on the patient’s history and physiology. It then produces the best customised treatment options, based on which the medical staff make their choice.
At the moment, the solutions being developed by Khresterion are currently focused on treatments for patients suffering from diabetes or cancer. By integrating best practices from national and international professional organisations in its software, Khresterion also intends to help increase the quality of healthcare and standardise medical practices.
Participatory research: with Epidemium, two laboratories are joining forces against cancer
Renewing the epidemiology – frequency, distribution and risk factors – of cancer using Big Data. Reinventing research based both on data and unique collaboration. These are the aims of the partnership between the pharmaceutical giant Roche (which is providing €200,000) and the network of community laboratories, La Paillasse. This scientific alliance, called Epidemium, stems from an observation: “We want to mix experts and enthusiasts. The right idea won’t necessarily come from where we’d expect,” says Olivier de Fresnoye, member of the La Paillasse community, which is responsible for the programme.
The collaborative programme takes the form of a ‘data challenge’, the ‘Challenge4Cancer’ launched in autumn 2015: over a six-month period, multi-disciplinary teams are tackling data challenges to discover – with the help of technology including machine learning algorithms – new approaches to caring for patients, new preventative methods, and new treatments. As a result, links could be discovered between cancer risk and factors such as sexual behaviour, climate, or diet. All approaches which could allow doctors to better anticipate cancer, or even prevent it from occurring.
Remote monitoring: IPaCT maintains a link with the hospital even after release
The Santinel application, developed by the start-up IPaCT, has been trialled since March 2015 by the mobile pain and palliative care team at the Institut Claudius Regaud (Toulouse-Oncopôle), promoting the monitoring of patients who have returned home after being hospitalised.
Using the data entered, the medical team can monitor changes in their patients’ pain levels and associated symptoms. By strengthening home monitoring, Santinel allows health institutions to reduce the length of hospital stays while offering their patients the assurance of not facing their disease alone.
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Source:: Big Data – a big bang for the health system?