Apple, IBM, Google hold keys to make EHR data more actionable, Kalorama says

Big data: There’s an abundance of excitement yet so few practical applications deployed in healthcare today.

The current fistful of overarching industry trends — precision medicine, population health, next-generation EHRs and value-based care among those — is creating enormous opportunities for traditional and new health IT vendors to serve hospitals customers in new ways.

What’s more, industry analysts are saying that traditional technologies are not up the big data demands America’s next-generation of healthcare will require. One such demand is the growing need to make use of all the information stored within electronic health records platforms.

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Kalorama, in fact, ranks more than 40 companies as chasing big data market share in a report published this week. Tech titans Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are on the list. And those are just the household names involved with healthcare analytics in some form.

“With the data mining skills of Apple, IBM and Google, there is increased hope that their entrance into the healthcare market will help realize the industry goal of turning EMR data into actionable Big Data insights,” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information.

There are a couple of reasons for that hope. Healthcare still spends less on IT than other industries, Carlson said, and many common tasks are laborious, meaning analytics and big data could potentially offset some of that rote labor.

Carlson added that the large companies have both existing networks and the ability to create new networks promising to disseminate medical knowledge even to small hospitals is another advantage.

He pointed to IBM and Hangzhou CognitiveCare announcing in August of last year that 21 hospitals across China plan to adopt Watson for Oncology trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering, to help deliver personalized, evidence-based cancer treatment options, as one example.

Another that happened during this same month was Stanford Medicine and Google collaborating to combine Stanford Medicine’s healthcare research and clinical expertise with Google’s know-how in cloud technology and data science.

Even before that Apple made moves with IBM to integrate data from HealthKit and ResearchKit with Big Blue’s Watson supercomputer.

More recently, reports have circulated that Amazon and Apple are investigating forays into the EHR space, whether by using iPhones as hubs for patient data or creating new EHR-like software.

“For all the industry excitement, applications of Big Data in healthcare from the large concerns are still in their infancy,” Carlson added. “The most contemporary advances are coming from the large healthcare companies using tissue data, genomics and clinical outcomes to develop more precise testing.”

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