Could wearables save A&E?

James Norman, former Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen Hospital director and current healthcare director at EMC, looks at whether wearable devices could be the answer to the looming A&E crisis.

As the number of A&E admissions continues to rise, fuelled by chronic illness and an ageing population, the NHS is under ever increasing pressure to keep up with demand. Recently released figures show that the last three months of 2014 saw the worst A&E waits for a decade, while delays faced by ambulances when they arrived at A&E doubled over the past year. A major part of this burden comes from the emergency re-admissions that take place each year, a number the NHS itself estimated to be as high as 600,000 in 2011.

If we are going to help reduce the pressure on our overstretched emergency departments, we need to find new ways of monitoring patients to ensure that their treatment is effective and to reduce the risk of exacerbations and emergency admissions. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcased a multitude of wearable technology. Whilst it’s still early days for the wearables market, these devices provide a simple method of tracking heart rate, body temperature, respiration, posture and activity levels in general. There are also models in development that will soon be able to track blood oxygen levels and measure blood pressure. The data captured by these devices can drive proactive monitoring and care, providing early warning if a discharged patient is at risk and giving medics the ability to recall them through non-A&E routes.

In a recent report, EMC and Volterra investigated how a more joined up approach to using information insights and opportunities in ehealth could deliver a Wellness Model, aimed at empowering individuals to have more control over their own lifestyles and care as well as making the healthcare sector more efficient. The study demonstrated that the use of data analytics could reduce re-admission costs by tens of millions each year, and have a knock-on effect on the quality of patient care. However, this kind of model can only be achieved through collaboration and sharing of information.

A serious gap currently exists between the NHS and other industries in the use of data analytics and technology. The lack of willingness to embrace electronic records, predictive analytics, collaboration and effective monitoring of patient and treatment outcomes, in addition to personalised care, is leading to failures and financial inefficiencies that are unsustainable in the long-term. With wearables monitoring and recording our vital signs, data analytics could lead to increased treatment effectiveness through risk stratification at an individual level and disease prevention through identification of risk factors.

A Year of Financial Uncertainty

Said Tabet, Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy lead at EMC asks, as we head into 2015, how can financial institutions reduce their risk?

Despite news that employment figures are still increasing, UK retail spend has bounced back and broader trends such as house sales continue to maintain a steady rhythm, so it may appear externally that the market is more stable than it has been for a number of years. Though this is true to an extent, stress tests from last month, which a number of UK institutions failed or came close to failing, along with the government targeting banks in the recent Autumn Statement, it’s safe to say that we’re not on even ground yet.

As we head into 2015, financial organisations need to get their ships in order and, in my opinion, this all centres around data and understanding risk. Here are my key themes for consideration as we go into next year:

  • Data: How much, at what cost and what quality?
    Digital pound - in textFinancial institutions of all sizes are looking to consume more and more data. While this is a general trend with ‘big data’, the use of “smart data” especially will be crucial in 2015. Essentially this takes into account that you need the right data at the right time (context) and relevant data (semantics) that is secure in order to succeed. Improving the productivity and performance of financial products will require discipline at the data level and we are moving more and more towards granular data. Financial institutions must be prepared for this and have measures in place to store, access and understand their data, in real-time.
  • Risk-based approach, still the way to go?
    Banks will continue to adopt a risk-based approach but as the markets start to improve, new innovations push the boundaries and new services emerge, we are going to see more and more of a balanced approach. This is all with the goal to satisfy shareholder requirements while being compliant. In a way, this model will help build a new view of compliance costs as an investment for the future of business. This is also emphasised by the need to develop and transform business processes. Loss of productivity can be measured through big data analytics and the ability to have near real-time relevant data and metadata will support this.
  • Risk will be managed at all levels and integrated with key data and metadata
    Risk is no longer about reporting. Risk management intelligence will be supported with better integration globally, particularly within large firms. The market as a whole is trying to better understand risk and prepare for potential pitfalls in the future, as demonstrated by recent stress tests. What’s concerning is that UK institutions are still falling short of industry expectations and measures, something which must be tackled, and quickly. There is a role for technology here, in ensuring that processes and access are allocated effectively.

2015 has the potential to be a crossroads for the UK economy. With likely changes in interest rates, along with possible changes in government, financial institutions need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold. Now is the time to put in place measures to ensure risk and data are prioritised.

 

 

Top Tech Trends in 2015

Here is our take on what will be the big tech trends for the UK in 2015.

Everything mobile

An ongoing trend is that of the mobile consumer. The expanding computing environment involving smartphones, tablets and wearables is making it vital for businesses to focus increasingly on adapting their services to the requirements of the mobile user. Consumers are always available, always online, and businesses that adapt and take their services to mobile devices will be able to create a direct relationship with them, with the potential to reach them as they are making their purchase decisions.

Doing this requires vast streams of data to be processed in real time, driving a massive increase in the adoption of technologies such as in-memory databases and flash storage. An industry that can benefit especially from this is the retail sector, however there is still work to be done for businesses to be able to process such large quantities of data in real-time as outlined in our recent Big Data League post on the retail sector. 2015 will be a year where we expect and hope to see this progressing much further.

Software defined

In the next decade, almost every industry will be re-defined by software, with much of that software being surfaced on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, but also in cars, aircraft engines, running shoes and human beings!  Think about Tesla – an electric car, AND a software-defined car. Tesla has done to the driving experience what Apple did to the mobile phone experience – your car is now a software platform to innovate on top of. Companies that don’t innovate in this way won’t last long. Storage arrays, servers, networks and entire data centers will be run and managed by smart software in the future. It is crucial for businesses to move away from static to dynamic models in order to deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business.

Big Data Analytics

In the world of big data analytics, it is the analytics part that will be the decisive factor for success in the future. It is this that enables businesses to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the ever-growing world of smart machines and the Internet of Things (IoT), a growth which won’t be slowing down anytime soon either. Further, analytics combined with embedded intelligence will increase the prevalence and further the development of context-rich systems, which can be alert to their surroundings and respond to them – such as context-aware security.

The above are three of the key trends that will affect businesses in the UK, but there are many more developments we expect to see in 2015. For example, 2015 may signal the beginning of the end of lectures, as the education sector is moving increasingly online and leading to better results.  Another influence will be the growing influx of millennials into the workforce, which is likely to affect the way businesses and IT departments operate.

What do you predict to be the big trends in 2015? Tweet the EMC team at @EMCUKI.