AI and Big Analytics Driving More Personalized Health Care

By Patrick McIntyre, SVP of Health Care Analytics, Anthem

Patrick McIntyre, SVP of Health Care Analytics, Anthem

There’s nothing more personal than healthcare. However, as providers are seeing more and more patients, time and resources are stretched thin, making it increasingly difficult to offer a truly personalized approach to health. There’s good news on the horizon: Recent advancements in artificial intelligence and big data, collective big analytics, are making it possible for the industry to offer a more individually tailored approach to healthcare. By leveraging big analytics and advanced technologies, these new approaches are leading to more successful health outcomes, higher quality  and lower costs.

These new technologies aren’t just impacting healthcare. It’s clear we’re all leading busier, more connected lives. Our mobile phones are our lifelines when we leave home, offering directions, breaking news and reminders about upcoming appointments. If we can make restaurant reservations, track workouts, make purchases and bring together fitness data via wearable device, why not schedule doctor visits, track medications, pay medical bills and bring together health data from disparate sources to empower consumers? It’s time healthcare industry leverage these technologies to help us lead healthier lives.

That time is now. By combining clinical, claims and other non-traditional data―such as data from wearable devices, social media interactions, and online activity ―we can build a more comprehensive picture of each individual consumer. This picture will enable doctors, health plans and patients to understand and take action to maintain and improve their health. For doctors, health plan and members, the ultimate goal is to ensure people stay healthy. A more holistic picture enables doctors and health plans to share proactive recommendations around preventative care, members to ensure they take medications as prescribed, and insurers to offer products that best support the personalized health care needs of individuals.

One new technology that’s taking the industry by storm is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, when combined with big data, enables rapid collection, understanding, and application of information gathered from a variety of sources – claims, doctor visits, emergency events, online and social media interactions, wearable devices, call center communications and other areas. By analyzing and learning from this data to better understand and get to know consumers, there’s opportunity to reach consumers where it’s most relevant and timely―through their preferred methods of communication-- to minimize clinical risk, close care gaps, reduce costs, drive pharmacy adherence and ensure care coordination, and ultimately improve their health.

"By combining clinical, claims and other non-traditional data – such as data from wearable devices, social media interactions, and online activity – we can build a more comprehensive picture of each individual consumer"

Artificial intelligence takes these processes and, through both supervised and unsupervised learning, continuously improves the accuracy, effectiveness, and relevancy of analytics, recommendations, and tactics. In the end, doctors can better manage their patient populations and more specifically, individual patient health. Health plans can also better communicate with their members and offer proactive health care support. Ultimately, these new technologies empower consumers to make more educated, personalized decisions about their health.

Let’s take an example: Meet Jane. With Jane’s consent, important information about Jane is gathered, such as data from her wearable device, social media, claims, medical records, and online activity. The information gathered reflects that Jane is an avid runner, interacts with people and companies primarily via her mobile device, and is active on social media. Jane visits her health plan site regularly for health and wellness tips, has asthma, and fills her asthma inhaler prescription on a regular basis. We also know that Jane has been seeking more information lately on how to manage asthma-related symptoms online and through social media. By analyzing this information, we can reach out to Jane―perhaps via mobile device―and provide recommendations for respiratory specialists on her network, remind her of tele-health options, whether she needs to see a doctor at off hours, and alert Jane to locate urgent care centers near her that can support any asthma flare-up – avoiding a costly ER visit. To help her stay healthy, we can also send her running tips to prevent injury and diet-related information to maintain energy during long runs. In this example, we’ve reached Jane in a very personalized way and have provided her recommendations to ensure she stays healthy.

New technologies like big data analytics and artificial intelligence are the future of healthcare. However, health plans can’t do this effectively alone. Strong collaboration with providers is critical to ensuring a seamless experience for individuals. By working with providers, health plans can create the solutions that add value to their practices. Undergoing medical treatment can be one of the scariest times in most people’s lives. Peace of mind is achieved when they know their health plan and doctors are working together to give personalized care to achieve the best possible outcome in―health and well-being.

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