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3 reasons why healthcare CIOs love wearables

Scott Nelson | Jan. 29, 2016
Healthcare CIOs have been given a great gift for their efforts to deal with the transformation from pay-for-service to pay-for-value -- wearable devices. Strategically minded CIOs will aggressively take action to help their organization leverage this technology for big data analytics and population health management.

They’re the gift that keeps on giving – wearables.  Healthcare CIOs have to love wearables.  I know what you’re thinking.  What value do consumer products have to my healthcare provider organization?  They aren’t accurate, they aren’t FDA approved, and none of my caregivers use them.  Why would I love wearables?  How can they be a gift to the owner of a highly regulated, complex, multi-functional caregiving organization?

Let me ask you three questions:

  1. Are you and your organization working on Big Data initiatives?
  2. Has your CEO or MD Director talked to you about Population Health yet?
  3. Are you working on interoperability initiatives trying to get better access to more patient data? 

My expectation is that if you are a healthcare CIO you answered “yes” to at least two of these questions.  Then I propose that wearables are a godsend to your problems.  Here are three reasons why.

1. Big Data and Analytics

I recently attended a big data and analytics conference sponsored by a local health insurance organization.  The keynote talk was given jointly by the CIO’s of the major health insurance host company and a major healthcare provider.  Both stressed how important big data was to the futures of their organizations.  In fact both took the opportunity to announce that they were hiring 100’s of data scientists over the next 18 months and encouraged audience members to apply on the spot.  Big data is going to be critical to both cost savings and new revenue sources for healthcare and as such is making healthcare CIOs more operationally critical and more strategic. 

So how fast can healthcare big data actually get here? 

The figure at right shows two steps in the development of big data for healthcare organizations.  The first is inter-system Electronic Medical Record (EMR) interoperability.  If we assume that in any given region there are five to ten healthcare organizations serving the same population then interoperability, if it can be accomplished, can give a 5x-10x increase in the amount of data that can be leveraged with analytics.

But consider the oft forgotten data sources at the base of the big data pyramid – Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD). PGHD comes from basically three sources: self-reported patient measures (weight, blood pressure, blood glucose etc.), patient self- status (“How much pain do you feel?”, “How did you sleep last night?”, “What did you eat and drink today?”, etc.), and wearable devices.  If you want to create a big data asset you have to make one of these two changes or both: find a valuable data stream that produces at a high rate or find a massive array of data sources.  Now that we have wearables PGHD is both.


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