IBM To Help Doctors Fight Heart Disease With Smarter Use Of Data

Andy Patrizio | CITE World | October 11, 2013
...IBM Research, Sutter Health, and Geisinger Health System have been granted $2 million for a joint research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a new type of analytics and application methods that could help doctors detect heart failure years earlier than they do now. IBM and its health care partners hope to develop methods that will catch signs of heart failure anywhere from six to 24 months ahead of time. With enough time, the patient might be able to fix it with lifestyle changes, or get on the proper medications.

The project is dependent on doctors using electronic health records. If they still do everything on paper, it won't do any good, said Ebadollahi. The system will examine health records to help detect heart failure earlier, identify best practices that help health systems nationwide integrate analytics into primary care, and take an expansive view of a patient's health history.

A patient might experience a symptom of heart trouble, be put on a drug, get better, but then show another symptom. On their own, they are non-specific or weak indicators. Having observed the combination of these weak signals, that becomes a strong indicator of heart failure. The doctor may notice this, he or she may not. Doctors don't always have the time to make such careful study of a patient's records over time. A computer does. That's why electronic records are so important...

Open Health News' Take: 

Indeed a new(er) reason to push for medical practitioners to use electronic health/medical record systems. A potential negative is individual and patient privacy in collecting said medical records to do such health care analytics. However, by using proper guidelines for patient privacy in using the data for such analytics work, this could be indeed a valuable tool in medical diagnostics not just for heart disease/failure, but for other areas as well.

Crawford Rainwater, Blogger @ Open Health News and CEO & President, The Linux ETC Company