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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.

Let’s look at why this is true.  For the sake of argument let’s focus on chronically ill patients and let’s say there are 100,000 such patients in the community.  Those 100,000 patients already generate data in the 5-10 healthcare organizations.  Assume they generate the following data each year (rounded to the nearest half kilobyte:

Average annual data via doctors visits:

  • 4 blood tests                                  4 x 500 bytes
  • 4 blood pressure tests                   4 x 500 bytes
  • 4 weigh-ins                                    4 x 500 bytes
  • Two urine tests                              2 x 500 bytes
  • Physicians notes                          10 Kbytes
  • Various Admin info                        10 Kbytes

Total                                                        ~25KB

For 100,000 patients, with full interoperability, the yield is about ~2.5GB of data per year.  I have not included medical images as they are a special case of big data with specific diagnostic application.

Now let’s turn on PGHD from connected scales, blood pressure cuff, and a wearable device measuring activity, sleep data, and heart rate.

Average annual data via PGHD with wearables

  • Daily weigh ins                               365 x 500 bytes
  • Daily blood pressure tests             365 x 500 bytes
  • Self-reported notes                        50 Kbytes
  • Wearable data every 10 sec          3.1M x 100 bytes

Total                                                        ~310MB

Total size of the PGHD annual health record is ~310 MB.  The same 100,000 patients yield roughly 31 TB of data per year.

So with PGHD the big data grows over 10,000 times faster than data from patient visits and clearly the data flow is dominated by the connected devices and wearables. Combine this with the unquestioned value of data from the patient’s real life and both the volume and richness of the data grows.  If your job is to help aggregate, secure, and analyze big data for a healthcare organization, nothing will create opportunity like wearables. 

2. Population health

Populaiton health, accountable care, Fee-for-Value – whatever you call it is it going to transform a trillion dollars of annual healthcare payments.  Every healthcare CEO today is studying population health and Fee-for-Value wondering how it will be deployed and who it will affect their healthcare organizations business.  So every healthcare CIO is wondering what it will mean to both the operation of the business and how the IT systems are going to have to change to supporty the new model.  Population health will change operations in several ways: billing will be come outcome based – the trending word is bundled.  Care giving is going to move from hospitals to clinics and then from clinics to the home.


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