Millions turned away from doctors’ surgeries – comments from Stuart Nyemecz

Stuart Nyemecz, district manager, regional public sector at EMC, offers his views on the recent news that millions of people are being shut out of doctors’ surgeries, arguing the application of technology and big data in healthcare has the power to dramatically improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality of healthcare. 

In the news yesterday, it was revealed that tens of millions of people are being turned away from doctors’ surgeries every year, as many patients are forced to take their concerns to A&E or simply to try to recover at home. The news is the latest in a series of scathing reports and recommendations for the NHS, which have recently highlighted the financial difficulties and resulting impact on patient care in the UK.

There is currently a fundamental lack of centralised data in healthcare and the impact is putting a strain on GPs surgeries and hospitals alike. Personalised care is not possible within the current system due to both the lack of personal information available on patients in real time and the lack of big data to use in predictive analytics. Today’s reports of GPs turning away patients more than 40 million times this year give an insight into the numbers being forced to turn to A&E as an alternative. If you consider the vast sums of money wasted each year through emergency admission and re-admission in A&E or the late spotting of symptoms from delayed or rushed GP appointments, it’s clear that something like this transition to a data-rich wellness model is a strategic necessity for the NHS.

Through applying the experience from the use of technology and big data in other industries to healthcare, it will dramatically improve efficiency and the quality of care, as well as the necessary cost savings needed. The NHS has reached a turning point in its history: it must embrace technology and big data analytics or experience reduced quality of care in the face of funding constraints and an ageing population.

Steve O’Neill – Transformative CFO on CFO World

The role of the CFO has evolved. With the key role technology now plays in business success, CFOs have the ability make big investment decisions that influence the future of a business. With this in mind, the Transformative CFO blog on CFO World, by our very own Steve O’Neill, is dedicated to technological issues CFOs are facing today and offers advice for those tackling these challenges in their business.

Steve is CFO EMEA Strategic Operations at EMC and is responsible for the company’s overall financial and operational strategy and commercial engagement in EMEA. With over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, he has some great insights to share on technological issues relevant to today’s CFOs.

In his most recent post, Steve discusses why CFOs should consider flash storage as a solution to their data storage challenges. Flash storage has historically been the more expensive option compared to traditional hard disk drives and is therefore quickly ruled out as an option. Given the amount of digital data being created and consumed is growing exponentially however, companies needing to store, secure and manage data in order to succeed as a business now face the tough challenge of meeting staff and customer needs and compliance requirements, whilst keeping the costs down. To address this, Steve discusses the benefits that make flash worth considering.

Another crucial issue facing companies of all sizes and around the world is cyber risk. The number of risks companies are facing is growing all the time and increasing in variety, and the potential costs to companies suffering a cyber-attack are considerable. However, even though understanding and planning for risk are part of a CFO’s remit, few CFOs had any processes set in place to manage cyber risk. Another of Steve’s posts laid out why CFOs are no longer able to turn their back and pass the buck when it comes to cyber risk: Cyber risk? Not my job.

Other topics discussed by Steve include why it is so important for companies to manage the exposure to risks of their digital data, which has become quite a challenge with technological developments such as public and hybrid cloud, and how the businesses that will be most successful in the future are those who are making the most of their data to gain real value, and the role of a CFO in achieving this.

So, keep an eye out for updates on the blog, and in the mean time you can find Steve on Twitter to get further insights from this transformative CFO.

The Bigger Game – Big Data to improve the Census

James Petter, Vice President and Country Manager EMC UK and Ireland, discusses the potential for Big Data to make the Census more timely and cost effective.

Over the past 18 months, interest in big data analysis has grown exponentially due to its potential to unlock new business models and power economic growth.

This type of analysis has been whole heartedly embraced by the financial services, where, amongst other things, it is used to detect and prevent fraud. However, big data can also provide public sector organisations with opportunities to extract greater value from their existing data and improve operational efficiency.

One way this could be applied by government is in relation to the Census. Once every ten years since 1801, every household in England and Wales has been required to respond to a national census. The objective is to provide planners, policy makers and researchers with valuable population statistics in order to inform decision making about the funding of public services and the provision of infrastructure, like housing or transport links. However, today in the UK, the Census is carried out at great expense using antiquated paper-based processes similar to those used over two centuries ago-forms are sent to every household, filled in on a specific day of the year and returned to the authorities by post. The last Census in 2011 cost the government £480 million, and 35,000 temporary workers were needed to collect and process the data.

Beyond the high figures, more fundamental questions are being asked about the validity of the ‘pen and paper’ approach to the census. In an age of globalisation, mass travel, and huge technological change, figures collected by hand once a decade can quickly become outdated. As rapid changes shape our society, archaic data-collection techniques could mean crucial decisions are based on inaccurate information.

In light of these challenges, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the organisation responsible for the Census, has been conducting a consultation on its future which is due to report later this year. One of the potential options the ONS has under consideration involves supplementing existing government data with compulsory annual surveys.

This is very similar to a recommendation made by leading think tank Policy Exchange, in its 2012 report “The Big Data Opportunity”, supported by EMC. The report explained that other existing government data sets, such as the council tax register, electoral roll, child benefit claims data, and state pension entitlement data, already provided partial coverage of the UK population. Collectively, these could be combined and de-duplicated to generate demographic information of comparable quality and superior timeliness to the Census. Policy Exchange also highlighted how a similar approach was being taken forward in the Netherlands. The Dutch conduct a “virtual census” in which administrative registers are linked at a pre-determined time to establish a record of the population.

Annual online surveys have the potential to offer the government a better understanding of the population than a ten-yearly census. Questions can be adjusted to respond to changing needs, while trends in migration or population growth can be identified much more quickly. Although these suggestions could create new hurdles in combining data and aligning insights, information exploration and analytics may offer the right solution, delivering more timely population estimates at lower cost.

 

This blog was originally posted on The Bigger Game Blog, which you can view here.   

 

Internet of Things in healthcare – smart devices

Technology in healthcare is a big topic at the moment – and it should be! The use of technology within the healthcare system has the potential to save the industry millions, to help predict and prevent illness, and even save our NHS for future generations.

Another topic that has caused quite a buzz this year is the Internet of Things, which refers to ‘things’ being linked up to the internet connected to other ‘things’, and being able to send and receive information. We’re not just talking phones and computers; we’re talking about your actual stuff – from watches and glasses to fridges, with new devices being developed constantly.

It’s therefore no surprise that Internet of Things devices focused on health and healthcare are popping up all the time. Below are some interesting devices you might not have seen before, but have the potential to save on costs and help improve our healthcare system:

 

FingerReader

The FingerReader is designed to help the visually impaired read by converting text to audio through a camera mounted on top to capture the text and text extraction software on a connected laptop or mobile phone.

This has been three years in the making and is still being developed, so it will be exciting to see it in practice, especially as this has the opportunity to benefit so many groups of people, including the elderly and children as well.

Pill bottle

By using lights, speakers and sensors to monitor the opening and closing of the pill bottle, the humidity and the amount of medication that is being removed in real time, it will be able to keep track of usage and dosage, and alert patients as to when they need to be taking their medication.

It will even alert patients via a phone call or text message if medication isn’t taken on time, which has the potential to reduce costs that are associated with incorrect dosages or missed medication – which are in the range of £170 billion. A fantastic idea.

Star Trek’s Tricorders

This is one that will surely be a big hit! Like the medical tricorder from Star Trek, this cool device will be able to read a person’s heart rate, temperature and oxygen levels, just by holding it to their forehead.

It uses a variety of sensors and a microphone to send information via Bluetooth to a smartphone app about your health. What’s more impressive is that the information is said to be 99% accurate, and can easily be shared with doctors. It also provides details on ECG waves and pulse wave transit time (PWTT) among other readings.

We certainly hope to be seeing this device later this year, as it means that patients will be able to take their own readings, whilst their doctor is immediately alerted should any of the results be a cause for concern.

Nymi

A new way to be identified: through the unique pattern in your heartbeat. The Nymi bracelet from Canadian firm Bionym will be able to measure each person’s unique cardiac rhythm tracked on an electrocardiogram.

When the wearer touches the bracelet with their opposite hand, it will take electrocardiogram and broadcast a signal to a matching device, for example allowing it to be unlocked.

Infant monitor

This new baby monitor is a sleep suit that can track a baby wearer’s temperature, breathing rate, body position and activity level.

There is a waterproof plastic turtle on the suit with a temperature sensor, accelerometer and Bluetooth low-energy chip that sends audio and data in real time to connected apps for iOS and Android devices. All parents need to do is download the app – it is also possible to see past logs so parents will be able to make more sense out of their baby’s sleeping patterns.

 

To read more about these devices take a look at this article on CBR, and if you’d like to learn more about the importance of investing in healthcare, take a look at this research from earlier this year.

Big Data is the big opportunity for referendum campaign teams


Martin Brown, EMC Country Manager for Scotland outlines the important role big data analytics has to play in the run up to Scottish voters going to the polls on 18 September 2014.

Nowhere has big data made such an impact as in politics, so here in Scotland we are watching with interest to see how the statistics reported on a daily basis in the media relating to the fast-approaching Scottish Referendum influence the decision made by voters on 18 September 2014.

It was in 2012, during Barack Obama’s campaign for a second term in office at the White House, that big data analytics earned its reputation as the tool that ensured his victory.  Over a two-year period, the US President’s campaign team collected, stored and analysed voter data collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field-workers, social networks and Democrats’ voter files in the swing states. They then knew what voters liked to eat, how long it took them to take their kids to school, what they did for a living, and how they planned to celebrate their birthdays.

This same data was also mined to help Obama raise $1 billion, hone television ads and create models of swing-state voters that could be used to boost the effectiveness of phone calls, door-knocks, direct mailings and social media. Campaign messages were micro-targeted to appeal to individual voters. Just as Dwight Eisenhower used radio in the 1950s and John F. Kennedy deployed the power of television in the 1960s, Obama leveraged big data analytics to win in 2012.

Few events in American life other than a presidential election touch 126 million adults, or even a significant fraction that many, on a single day. Certainly no corporation, no civic institution, and very few government agencies ever do. Obama did so by reducing every American to a series of numbers. Yet those numbers somehow captured the individuality of each voter, and they were not just demographic classifications. The scores measured the ability of people to change politics—and to be changed by it.

So is this big data analysis being replicated by the Yes and No campaigns currently in Scotland?  There’s no doubt that within each campaign team there will be expert analysis taking place on a daily basis in relation to potential Scottish voters – whether those voters know it or not.

Each and every one of us generates vast amounts of information, or ‘digital shadows’, on a daily basis. Smartphones, social networks and other devices, including PCs and laptops, have allowed billions of people around the world to process huge amounts of information. We upload pictures, audio and personal information to Facebook, while Twitter records billions of online conversations between people across the planet. This information is creating opportunities for organisations to generate individual-specific profiles, uncovering patterns to produce insights into what makes each one of us tick.

Evidence from various polls and studies so far in the Scottish Referendum campaigns clearly show that Yes is winning the battle for online support through social media – but this lead doesn’t translate through to the opinion polls where Better Together is still significantly ahead.

With just over two months to go it will be fascinating to see both sides pick up the pace of their campaigns and see if they adopt any changes or new approaches that come from their analysis of voter data gleaned through these social media interactions. Doubtless there are insiders in each camp who are documenting everything that’s influencing their respective campaigns and we will hear about what worked and what didn’t in due course.

Until then it remains anyone’s guess as to which Scottish politician will send the first tweet to announce their victory once all the votes have been counted.

If you’d like to read more, see the full article by Martin Brown on Herald Scotland.

EMC Mega Launch 2014 – #RedefinePossible

Imagine entering through the TARDIS into a world where rock bands are playing (too) early in the morning to hear all the latest announcements helping to redefine what is possible in the world of big data, cloud and storage. At EMC’s Mega Launch, you didn’t have to imagine.

This year’s version of the annual Mega Launch event couldn’t have been more British if it tried according to EMC CMO Jeremy Burton – except perhaps with the addition of Austin Powers – and the Twittersphere responded with selfies from the TARDIS and many beautiful images of the event.

Oh, and EMC unveiled a whole set of new product releases as well, including updates to XtremIO, VMAX and Isilon.

For an update on the announcements, a recap of the event or just to enjoy some of the great images, take a look at EMC’s Mega Launch on Twitter with the hashtag #RedefinePossible:

UK Government invests in digital technology

Earlier this week it was announced that the UK government is committing £42 million for investment in digital technologies. The plans are focused in particular around data handling and the Internet of Things.

The announcement is part of a larger plan aimed at ‘developing and nurturing the very best of British entrepreneurial talent’. It will include competitions for digital start-ups to secure funding, as well as continued investment in Tech City and the Open Data institute.

The government is also getting involved in developing the pipeline of cyber talent by teaming up with the Open University to launch a cyber-security course. This is great news, as it will allow 200,000 individuals to study the topic online and will push the UK forward in its skills development in the cyber arena, helping to protect us better in the future.

It is promising to see the government stepping up its involvement in the world of digital technology. In light of the recently published Policy Exchange report, we’re looking forward to seeing how this will be reflected in manifestos for the 2015 general election, to be announced at the parties’ conferences this autumn.

The report revealed technology has the potential to completely reinvent and enable government. Amongst other findings, the report also showed that although the government is already working on a number of projects to deliver cost efficiency and service benefits for citizens, digital transformation can deliver a windfall for the public sector of $24 Billion by 2020! We hope to see policy makers putting technology at the heart of their thinking ahead the election.

To find out more, take a look at our blog post on the Technology Manifesto report and watch the Technology Manifesto debate that took place last month. Alternatively you can download the full report here.

The future of the NHS as a Universal Healthcare provider

Stuart Nyemecz, district manager, regional public sector at EMC, argues that a fundamental shift to data-driven medicine, not incremental spending cuts, is needed to sustain the NHS’ future as a universal healthcare provider

Last week’s news headlines revealed how the NHS faces a funding gap of up to £2bn for the next financial year, which is 2% of the total budget, and needs to make £20bn of savings this parliament. It was also revealed the Royal College of Nursing will be debating whether patients should be charged £10 to see their GP at their annual conference.

These proposed changes to the NHS don’t address the core areas where costs are escalating and don’t tackle the underlying pressures facing patient care. The Department of Health estimates that long term chronic conditions cost 70% of the total amount spent on health and social care by the NHS, approximately £65 billion. If we keep looking to cut costs or generate revenue to try and solve the funding gap, it is only a matter of time before the underlying principle of free Universal Care comes under serious threat.

Dramatic action is needed to help reduce the deficit and lessen the increasing burden on the NHS. Data can now be used to create a more predictive, personalised healthcare model, moving us from an illness to a wellness approach. Informatics can help to identify the factors that put patients at high risk of developing a condition and help tackle it before it strikes, and monitoring patients using data can also dramatically improve care management.

The NHS is an incredible national asset and was declared the world’s best healthcare system by a panel of experts last week. However, embracing bio-informatics and data-driven healthcare is vital in supporting a broader strategic transformation of the NHS and will be necessary to ensure it remains world’s best universal healthcare provider in the future.