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The secret to a healthy life? Big data

It’s an exciting time to be in medicine. Thanks to scientific advances, many more of us are living longer. We’ve seen exciting developments in areas such as robotic surgery, prosthetics and remote care. All these technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we experience healthcare.

With better medical care, Earth’s population has skyrocketed. The number of people on our planet is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations, and our healthcare services are feeling the pressure. Many people live with multiple care challenges, and healthcare teams have to deliver better results, for more people, while also making smart decisions on their budgets.

To ensure everyone can access the care they need, when they need it, we need to understand what’s really happening in our healthcare services. Hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries collect a staggering amount of personal data, thanks to the boom in connected devices. But they don’t always have the tools to access this information, or understand what it means for their patients and day-to-day operations.

The KPMG and Microsoft Alliance brings together the power of Microsoft technology and big data analytics with KPMG’s experience in developing effective healthcare solutions. By combining their technical expertise, the Alliance aims to bring software and technology solutions to market that can assist healthcare professionals around the world.

KPMG’s Healthcare division is made up of a group of industry experts that helps healthcare teams uncover the secrets in big data. KPMG redesigns existing care systems to include big data analytics technology, bringing together multiple data sources and ensuring all sensitive patient information is secured in line with local laws and regulations. For many healthcare organisations, this means a new platform to support a new way of working.

The idea for the latest innovative healthcare platform was developed by the KPMG and Microsoft alliance in just three days. As part of a hackathon, experts from both companies worked together to develop a robust, secure and flexible analytics platform that can make powerful data analytics tools available and understood by every level of care provider.

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Using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, and Cortana Intelligence Suite, the team created a data analytics platform that allowed staff to access real-time information about patient health, staff resourcing and finance. With this knowledge, healthcare providers can now predict what services citizens may need, ensure services aren’t being duplicated and empower doctors and nurses to provide personalised care recommendations for their patients.

“We’ve developed a solution for data processing, storage and analytics that is delivering results for the business internationally,” said Paul Henderson, Director of Health Data and Analytics at KPMG.

“Big data is about the techniques we use. In a couple of days, we were able to take disparate sets of data, bring them together and come up with analysis on which we can make decisions,” added Andrew Fryer, Principal Technical Evangelist at Microsoft UK.

A number of NHS trusts are using technology to track the performance of operating theatres

A number of NHS trusts are using technology to track the performance of operating theatres

The dashboards are already supporting projects in the UK. The NHS is using the technology to forecast population growth, informed by local insights, to determine what healthcare services may be needed in the future. For example, some localities have different needs because they have differences in their deprivation rates, and the platform helps model how care systems can meet this demand. Different care pathways require different care organisations to work together as one in the interest of their patients, and achieving this co-ordination can be difficult. Through the platform, organisations can work out how to manage the flow of activity and cost levels for groups of patients. A number of NHS trusts are also using the platform to track the performance of operating theatres, patient stays and the status of employees.

Big data is essential to keeping our care systems healthy. With this depth of knowledge, healthcare providers can ensure everyone has access to the care they need, when they need it. As Fryer said: “Everybody can benefit from a bit of science in their data.”