Big Data on Patients

Big Data, capitalized for emphasis and hype, is all the rage in every industry. Healthcare is no exception. Companies and investors are betting big on the power of data. Healthcare produces a lot of data that is growing exponentially, so it’s ripe for reaping the benefits of its unification and analysis.

Big Data on Patients

I’ve heard a lot of descriptions for Big Data. The most generic seem to be technical. “Too massive and unstructured for standard databases” literally describes Big Data, but my favorite description came from a guy I met recently who  worked in defense, built a big data product with Hadoop that got acquired, and is now focused on the financial sector. He presented the real power of Big Data to me this way: “Big Data offers data about a subject in multiple dimensions. The more dimensions you have on the subject, the more powerful the Big Data and insights are on that subject.” I would never have been able to make such a simple analogy, but it makes Big Data perfectly simple to grasp.

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How Do You Define EHR?

ONC has been using the term EHR prodigiously for the last several years and many in the industry have followed suit. I understand the difference between EHRs, PHRs, and EMRs, but I had never read how the ONC defines and differentiates them.

An EHR (electronic health record) is a more comprehensive term than an EMR (electronic medical record.) An EHR includes notes from multiple practices and implies sharing of patient data. EHRs are about portability of health data across practices, between providers, and to patients themselves. EHRs are certified for meaningful use (MU). Both EMRs and EHRs — at least according to ONC websites — have clear benefits ( here and here) for providers and patients. The ONC also has definitions for PHR, which not surprisingly is a patient-controlled version of a health record.

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Rock Health CEO Summit 2014

I attended the Rock Health CEO Summit in San Francisco. The event was relatively small, made up mostly of startup co-founders and CEOs with a few industry and investor people sprinkled in.

Rock Health CEO Summit 2014

I was surprised when I saw the list of attendees. I hadn’t heard of most of the companies. The ones that I knew were spread across a broad range of the industry and broader range of technologies. Being Rock Health, the organizers did a very good job of creating a snapshot of the attendees at the conference by the numbers.

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The Apple EMR

It’s fun to speculate about what might happen if a giant like Apple were to move into healthcare. Google flopped with Google Health, though it continues to push with more interesting offerings like Helpouts, HIPAA-complaint Google Apps, and its recent investment in Calico. Now we’re seeing Google Glass being touted in healthcare for everything from telemedicine to access to device and EHR data. Facebook integrated organ donation registries with some early success. Microsoft was famously unsuccessful with Amalga although it’s doing more than just that.

Lt. Dan reported this week that Apple may be entering the healthcare market with a new "Healthbook" application rumored to be included in iOS 8. Additional rumors are that Healthbook, which is supposed to be similar to Passbook, will be integrated with the much-speculated iWatch. Supposedly the iWatch is going to be able to track lots of different biometric data, including temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and potentially more. At this point, this is really nothing more than rumors, though I think it’s a safe bet that Apple is going to be moving into the health and wellness space, either with an integrated iOS app, a device like the iWatch, or some combination thereof.

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Physician Ratings

I wrote a post last May about how consumers would enter the health system. I discussed the options for doctor searching and finding. Many companies are trying to create healthcare-specific solutions in that area.

The biggest, or at least the most widely known because of its funding and press, is ZocDoc. But that space has heated up a lot over the last several years. Companies offering variations of doctor finding, with and without appointment booking, are DocAsap, iTriage, HealthTap, ShareCare, and MD.com, to name only a few.

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