Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare
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Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare
A view on how analytics and social media is used for shaping the healthcare industry
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Enabling organizational strategies with analytics could drive better patient outcomes

Enabling organizational strategies with analytics could drive better patient outcomes | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |



Complete White paper:



While almost two-thirds of organizations across the healthcare ecosystem have analytics strategies in place, our research shows that only a fifth are driving analytics adoption across the enterprise.



The IBM Institute for Business Value has been listening to what members of the healthcare ecosystem around the world have been saying about their experiences with analytics.  We have surveyed 555 executives within the healthcare industry and are about to launch our latest point-of-view, Analytics across the ecosystem: A prescription for optimizing healthcare outcomes. This blog briefly explores just one of the aspects covered in the paper; ‘Importance of enabling organizational strategies with analytics’


The healthcare ecosystem is the convergence of otherwise separate entities, such as life sciences organizations, providers and payers, as well as social and government agencies. Going foreword, gaining and sharing meaningful insights from data across the entire healthcare ecosystem will be a necessity to correlate cost and quality of care. For example, increased interaction among providers, payers, life sciences organizations and patients can help reduce unplanned adverse events. Patients can benefit from more individualized care. Insights from analytics can facilitate continuous learning and promote quality improvement. However, organizations are still struggling with using advanced analytics for gaining such insights. Only 34% of our study’s respondents said they think in terms of analytics that can help gain actionable insight from data.


Enabling organizational strategies using analytics can lead to a significant impact. For example, in a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study about big data, the percentage of respondents in the healthcare and life sciences industries reporting a competitive advantage from analytics rose from 35% in 2010 to 72% in 2012, a 106% increase in two years.

To derive the most value, analytics must become an increasingly important factor in corporate strategy decisions. To position analytics accordingly, organizations must define the enabling analytics strategy, prioritize their roadmaps to address internal requirements and create strategies for future collaborative partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem. A comprehensive plan for governance is a foundational to drive adoption of any analytics strategy. High-level sponsorship of key analytics projects is an important success factor. The most effective analytics initiatives embed small, action-oriented analytics into key decision points of specific business processes that are used widely across the ecosystem. Metrics to measure success should be in place from day one and be tracked. To get the most out of these projects, organizations should focus on early insights that enable refinement of processes over time.


The point-of-view will explore this topic in further detail taking into context the requirements within the organization as well as across the entire ecosystem. Read the paper to learn more and discover the three areas of focus that can have a dramatic impact on your organization and entire ecosystem.



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Who will unlock the data bottleneck in healthcare?

Who will unlock the data bottleneck in healthcare? | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review discusses the findings of a survey of senior executives across sectors and confirms that two-thirds of them report having big data in production, with 70 percent indicating that big data is of critical importance to their firms. Consumer oriented industries such as financial services are heavily represented in the survey, as are life sciences firms


As with most innovation and new technology programs, adoption rates and effectiveness will vary across sectors, and even within sectors. Typical factors influencing this dynamic are an industry sector’s historical approach to cutting edge technologies, focus (or lack thereof) on top-line oriented innovation vs cost reductions, and ROI considerations, just to name a few.


Even within Healthcare, the focus may be on R & D in pharma, claim expense control among payers, and clinical outcomes improvement in providers. Accordingly, stakeholders take widely varying approaches to investments in big data, and this consequently shapes their approaches towards the stewardship of enterprise-level data.

Why is healthcare suboptimal in the use of available data?

A paper by the IMS Institute for Health examines this issue in great detail and outlines the tradeoffs that regulators and patients have to make for data to be leveraged meaningfully. The paper argues that longitudinal data, even in a non-identifiable form, can be extremely useful in accelerating research and supporting connected health initiatives, involving big data from multiple sources, including new sources such as wearables. However, there are several bottlenecks in harnessing all this data – these include the willingness of participants to share data, regulatory and privacy restrictions, the suitability and reliability of new data sources, and information security considerations.


The challenges related to interoperability of data are well-known, as are the privacy restrictions on the use of data. However, several workarounds are emerging, as market participants (belatedly) coalesce around common standards to enable data exchange and analysis across the healthcare ecosystem. Cloud-based models that are HIPAA compliant and secure, are becoming more and more accepted as enterprises recognize that in many cases, cloud environments can be even more secure than their own legacy environments.


However, even with all of this, the ability to derive value depends on an individual institution’s access to large amounts of data within and across health systems that enable benchmarking and pattern analysis. This is where the fragmented healthcare system comes up short. The big EHR vendors, despite their access to vast amounts of data, have been slow to take the lead. Initiatives such as health information exchanges (HIE) remain regional, with their own set of restrictions governed by the individual members of the exchange.

The HBR article concludes that the vast majority of the problems in big data programs relate to people, not technology. Within organizations, effective use of data is stymied by management silos, and the disconnect between CIO's and the lines of business hampers the collaboration required for improving patient outcomes. Governance models within healthcare are evolving slowly, with the role of Chief Data Officer still relatively rare. The absence of centralized governance and the lack of collaboration weakens the data even further as individual groups choose to work with the limited data available within their silos.

The result of all this is an industry that operates sub-optimally at a system and a firm level across all of healthcare


So who bells the cat?

As technology continues to progress, the ability of healthcare to adopt and benefit from big data programs will continue to increase, and the focus has to inevitably turn to governance issues. As with sectors like retail and financial services, the solutions may emerge from disruptive forces outside the system. One obvious source of disruption is Silicon Valley, with its iconoclastic ways of approaching the status quo.  Notwithstanding some regulatory challenges, most recently with insurance broking startup Zenefits, some of these startups will successfully disrupt incumbent players and their deeply entrenched interests in maintaining the status quo.

A second, unexpected, source of disruption seems to be big employers, especially the large companies that underwrite the costs of medical expenses for their employees. A group of twenty large employers, including the likes of American Express and Verizon, are forming a coalition to pool the medical claims information on their 4 million collective employees to identify opportunities for group purchasing and contracting that will put pressure on health plans and providers to reduce costs. These employers are motivated by multiple factors – controlling costs, retaining employees, and managing financial risk being some of them.

Frustration with the current state of healthcare, especially the large premium increases we have seen this year, will lead to some radical new thinking – which many of us crave, including this blogger. Sure, there will be lots of hand-wringing about new players playing fast and loose with patient data.  At the same time, the fact is that the key to solving this bottleneck is in the hands of the incumbents in the healthcare system. If they choose not to use it, someone else will. Very soon.

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Apple's ResearchKit Is a New Way to Do Medical Research | WIRED

Apple's ResearchKit Is a New Way to Do Medical Research | WIRED | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

AT TODAY’S EVENT, Apple announced a new software framework it hopes will help turn the 700 million iPhones in users’ hands into medical diagnostic tools. 

ResearchKit is an open-source framework that lets medical researchers create diagnostic apps that tap into the screens and accelerometers on the iPhone, as well as data from HealthKit apps. The first five apps built with ResearchKit are available today, and they’re built to help diagnose various disorders. 

Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams detailed some of the specialized applications available at launch. They include the mPower app, which is built to gauge the effects of Parkinsons’ Disease and was developed in conjunction with the University of Rochester, Xuanwu Hospital at Capital Medical University in Beijing, and Sage Bionetworks. 

On stage, Williams demoed tests within the app that could measure hand tremors by using an iPhone touchscreen, vocal trembling using the microphone, and a walking balance test.

Williams said he hopes ResearchKit can help address a few problems with medical research in its current state, such as limited patient participation, infrequent data sampling, and one-way communication from the patient to a medical professional. The ResearchKit apps are designed to be more interactive and allow a patient to control when and with whom to share data.

Along with the mPower demo, Williams mentioned a few more apps that will be available immediately for iOS: a diabetes-diagnostic app from Massachusetts General Hospital; an app to diagnose heart disease from Stanford and the University of Oxford; an Asthma Health app from Mount Sinai Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College; and an app to help victims of breast cancer made by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, UCLA School of Public Health, Penn Medicine, and Sage Bionetworks.

Williams also stressed that customers would be able to control the data shared by each ResearchKit app, and that sensitive data would only be visible by medical researchers. 

“Apple will not see your data,” Williams said during the presentation.

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Predictive analytics, a potent prescription for health care

Predictive analytics, a potent prescription for health care | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

Of all potential applications for big data and emerging 3-D simulation technology, those centered on speeding medical diagnostics or clinical trials could be the most life-altering.

Just before the New Year, predictive analytics company Inovalon Holdings—which specializes in healthcare applications—filed plans to raise up to $500 million in an initial public stock offering.

“We believe that the opportunity before us is substantial as data increasingly becomes the lynchpin in health care—from clinical quality outcomes and financial performance, to the consumer experience and drug discovery,” the Bowie, Md. company notes in its papers.

Indeed, of all the potential applications for big data and emerging 3-D simulation technologies—and there are many—those centered on speeding medical diagnostics or clinical trials could be the most life-altering. Literally.

That’s one reason this is a major early focus for IBM’s  IBM -0.98% WatsonAnalytics service. So much so that the company is customizing its technology for the Mayo Clinic to speed up cancer research, and encourage higher patient participation. “With shorter times from initiation to completion of trials, our research teams will have the capacity for deeper more complete investigations,” said Nicholas LaRusso, the Mayo Clinic doctor leading the project. “Coupled with increased accuracy, we will be able to develop, refine, and improve new and better techniques in medicine at a higher level.”

DataStax, which sells distributed database management software used by the likes of eBay  EBAY -0.47% , Intercontinental Hotel Group  IHG -1.01% , and Netflix  NFLX -1.26% , is also finding a following among businesses seeking to disrupt health care. Its technology underpins a service from Amara Health Analytics that uses real-time predictive analytics to identify sepsis, a notoriously difficult-to-diagnose infection that affects 1% to 2% or all hospital patients. It also kills roughly half of who contract it. Amara’s application continuously monitors medical device data and alerts clinicians when a patient appears to be at risk.

“Amara can correlate symptoms and set probability assessments in real time, and they can do this in a way that is faster than a human observer. It helps clinicians intervene sooner. This is stuff that starts to impact quality of life,” said Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax, which raised a $106 million Series E funding round in September 2014. 

Analytics plus 3-D simulation and modeling software are also at the heart (pun intended) of an ambitious research project led by French tech company Dassault Systèmes. TheLiving Heart Project, which includes researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, combines data about “physics of the human body” with information about materials used in medical devices such as pacemakers to anticipate how they will perform over time. “This is an expansion of our ability to predict how something will behave,” said Steven Levine, Chief Strategy Officer, Dassault Systèmes, Simulia, and director of the project.

The idea is to predict potential failures and speed innovation, while reducing the amount of money spent on client trials, Levine said. “If we can help the FDA and device manufacturers understand the failure mechanics so that they won’t place a risk on humans, they can improve reliability.”

Dassault Systèmes picked the heart as its first focus because cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death globally and also because Levine has a personal interest in this research. His 20-something daughter, who was born with a rare congenital heart condition, is on her fourth pacemaker since the age of two. “The FDA has never really understood how strong the pacemaker leads should be. Now, we can simulate the motion that a person would go through. … Coupled with wearables technology, we are on the threshold of having an incredible amount of data about cardiovascular performance.”

This item first appeared in the Jan. 5 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.

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Preparing for the digital health revolution

Preparing for the digital health revolution | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The convergence of life sciences and technology has the potential to reshape consumption of healthcare services, transform government policy and minimise disease risk by enabling health-focused lifestyle choices.

The healthcare industry has long understood that a ‘one-pill-fits-all’ approach is an inadequate way to treat billions of individual patients across a multitude of genetic, cultural and environmental backgrounds. It has therefore attempted to work towards an idealised vision of personalised medicine, whereby the right drug is delivered to the right patient, at the right time, in the right dose. However, the ability to derive and collate the individualised data necessary to deliver on this vision has, to date, been a limiting factor.

The advent of personal genomics provided a significant step towards enabling personalised medicine, but it is innovation in wearable and implantable devices capable of measuring a multitude of personal biochemical and physiological parameters that will deliver on genomics’ promise.

Wearable technologies such as the Samsung Gear and the Apple Watch are marketed largely as lifestyle products, with apps aimed at measuring and improving health and sport-related activities. However, these products are also part of a new category of medical devices capable of monitoring all the vital bodily functions in real time and transmitting this data via wireless networks and mobile phone technology to a cloud storage facility for diagnostic purposes.

Devices are now available that can, in a non-hospital environment, measure and transmit all of the same categories of health markers that would currently be measured in an intensive-care facility. These products include earphones that can check blood oxygenation levels, edible microchips that can capture food intake and rest patterns, and even nanotechnology-enabled sensors, or ‘nanobots’, which can be injected into the bloodstream; there, they wirelessly transmit data regarding the presence of markers that can help to predict diseases such as cancer or heart failure.


The benefits of harnessing device technology in this way are beginning to influence the collaborative and acquisition strategies of the major pharmaceutical companies, which are looking at complementary diagnostic partners that have the technology to transform their therapeutic innovations. These companies’ ultimate commercial goal is to deliver integrated diagnostic and therapeutic products under a single brand.

The connectivity of wearable devices is relevant not only to the uploading of data for diagnostic purposes, but also to delivering information to the user to improve their use of healthcare services and products. A vast amount of public money is wasted as a result of patient non-compliance with medication regimens. The impact of medication-reminder apps, for example, which prompt patients to take their pills and connect to a pharmacy to refill prescriptions, could have a sizeable impact on reimbursement arrangements and the strategies of pharmaceutical companies.

Among the health apps in the NHS library is Sleepio, a program that delivers personalised cognitive behavioural therapy for insomniacs, which won the Wired Health Bupa Startup competition.

At a recent event in Berlin, where healthcare startups pitched their ideas to the industry and prospective investors, innovations included web applications that allow patients to obtain early-stage medical advice, help them perform exercises tailored by doctors, and support doctors and labs in managing their workflows and data.

In developing countries, the ability of smartphones to capture patient data could also have a powerful impact on national vaccination programmes. Tracking each vaccinated individual via a barcode scan can facilitate an understanding of the stage at which sufficient individuals have been vaccinated, which can help to create effective immunity for the whole population.

Detecting, reporting and collating vast amounts of individuals’ biological and physiological data also provides great opportunities for the biopharmaceutical industry to improve the efficiency of its clinical trial and post-approval surveillance procedures. Many therapeutically effective drugs are not presently available because of serious negative side effects in a relatively small number of patients. The use of devices to constantly monitor for markers of the onset of such side effects will change the entire regulatory environment - and should ensure that many more important drugs reach and remain in the market.

Data privacy

The ability to sync wearable technology to a smartphone will allow people to create a hub of personal healthcare data that they, their GP and even their personal trainer can access.

Here, the issues of data protection and purpose become acute - individuals will want to use the data for their personal benefit, but what are the legal and ethical parameters guiding what employers or insurers can do with it? What happens when the line is crossed between information about wellbeing and information concerning matters of life and death?

This concern - of private medical records becoming a commercial proposition - goes to the heart of the debate over the UK’s NHS data programme to share and link patient data in order to improve research and “transform health services”. In February 2014, the scheme was delayed by six months in order to “ensure stronger safeguards around the uses of the data [and] clarity about the rights people have to opt out”.

Such gathering of data raises fundamental questions about privacy and ethics. The price of genetic information has fallen dramatically - from $10m (£6.27m) per genome in 2001 to close to $1,000 (£627.76) - but the much publicised shutdown of 23andMe’s home DNA-testing service by the US Food and Drug Administration demonstrates the difficulty of regulating consumer-driven medical research.

It is little wonder that legislators do not have the answers. The convergence between technology, life sciences and data is fast-moving, making categorisation and enforcement difficult. The world of wearable technology is not yet regulated. And with very little precedent, legal and commercial departments need experts with degrees in computing and biology. Engineering in the life sciences field is not new, but the internet has brought discovery much closer to the individual - and, with it, the need for doctors (and lawyers) who understand data algorithms.

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Twitter Partners With IBM To Bring Social Data To The Enterprise | TechCrunch

Twitter Partners With IBM To Bring Social Data To The Enterprise | TechCrunch | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

witter and IBM announced a significant partnership today that will involve Twitter sharing its data with IBM for integration into IBM’s enterprise solutions, including the Watson cloud platform. The deal means IBM will gain access to the Twitter “firehose,” allowing businesses to incorporate insights gained from the social network into their decision-making processes.

Additionally, the two companies will also be teaming up to build “a unique collection of enterprise solutions,” they say, which puts IBM into a different category than some of Twitter’s other data partners, who generally just ingest the data for use in their own systems.

IBM says the companies will collaborate to build enterprise applications to improve business decisions across industries and professions, beginning with applications and services for sales, marketing and customer service. They will also work together on industry-specific solutions, including those for banking, consumer products, transportation and retail.

Developers will also be able to integrate Twitter data into their own cloud applications, thanks to this agreement, using either IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud or its BlueMix development platform.

Going forward, the integrations will allow IBM customers to ask more complex questions about their businesses, like “why are we growing quickly in Brazil?” for example, a Twitter blog post suggests, and then use Twitter data to help them inform those responses.

The announcement, which Twitter says has been “years in the making,” comes at a time when IBM has been ramping up its efforts to become a player in the analytics space. The company has been rolling out a number of products recently, including Watson Analytics, a cloud application designed for working with big data which bears the name of the Watson supercomputer best known for its stint as a Jeopardy contestant years ago.

IBM has since taken that technology and turned it into a cloud platform that they’re building their own solutions on top of, while also inviting others to do the same.

IBM wants to provide business customers with as many data sources as they can, so it makes sense that they would include Twitter’s data stream in their analytics products.

Meanwhile, for Twitter, the company is now able to benefit more from its firehose of data, while also establishing its value to enterprise customers beyond the usual marketing and social media monitoring kinds of use cases. That matters even more these days as Twitter is struggling to find user growth, even attempting to invent new metrics that can track Twitter’s true reach to its “logged-out” and “syndicated” audiences, and beyond. (During the company’s earnings this week, it reported that user growth slowed to 4.8 percent and timeline views per user fell 7 percent.)

Twitter’s user growth may be slowing, but its move into the enterprise space here is surely not without some financial impact to the company’s bottom line.

Twitter also notes today that its new relationship with IBM was made possible by its acquisition of Gnip earlier this year, as it provided the enterprise-grade platform capable of delivering its 15 billion “social activities” created per day to Twitter partners, now including IBM.

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Where Will Healthcare's Data Scientists Find The Rich Phenotypic Data They Need?

Where Will Healthcare's Data Scientists Find The Rich Phenotypic Data They Need? | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The big hairy audacious goal of most every data scientist I know in healthcare is what you might call the Integrated Medical Record, or IMR, a dataset that combines detailed genetic data and rich phenotypic information, including both clinical and “real-world” (or, perhaps, “dynamic”) phenotypic data (the sort you might get from wearables).

In my last post, I noted that, as Craig Venter told Congress this summer, the combination of next-generation sequencing (to generate raw data) and cloud computing (to efficiently process the information) begins to address the genomic data component of an IMR (disclosure: I work at DNAnexus, a genomics data company).  The question is: where will the dense phenotypic data come from?

The gold standard for clinical phenotyping are academic clinical studies (like ALLHAT and the Dallas Heart Study).  These studies are typically focused on a disease category (e.g. cardiovascular), and the clinical phenotyping on these subjects – at least around the areas of scientific interest — is generally superb.  The studies themselves can be enormous, are often multi-institutional, and typically create a database that’s independent of the hospital’s medical record.

Inevitably, large, prospective studies can take many years to complete.  In addition, there’s generally not much real world/dynamic measurement.

The other obvious source for phenotypic data is the electronic medical record (EMR).  The logic is simple: every patient has a medical record, and increasingly, especially in hospital systems, this is electronic – i.e. an EMR.  EMRs (examples include Epic and CernerCerner) generally contain lab values, test reports, provider notes, and medication and problem lists.  In theory, this should offer a broad, rich, and immediately available source of data for medical discovery.

I discussed some of the problems with EMRs in my last post – the recorded information is of variable quality, often incomplete, generally doesn’t include real-world phenotype (though this may be changing), and is typically extremely difficult to extract.  Interoperability remains a huge problem, meaning that even two hospitals that might be running the same brand of EMR can have trouble exchanging information.  Consequently, pooling EMR information at scale from multiple hospitals remains a significant problem, despite the obvious utility of being able to do this for cancer and other diseases.  (It’s also fair to say that many of the central challenges around data sharing by academic physicians are not attributable to problems with the EMR.)

DIY (enabled by companies such as PatientsLikeMe) represents another approach to phenotyping, and allows patients to share data with other members of the community.  The obvious advantages here include the breadth and richness of data associated with what can be an unfiltered patient perspective – to say nothing of the benefit of patient empowerment.  An important limitation is that the quality and consistency of the data is obviously highly dependent upon the individuals posting the information.

Pharma clinical trials would seem to represent another useful opportunity for phenotyping, given the focus on specific conditions and the rigorous attention to process and detail characteristic of pharmaceutical studies.  However, pharma studies tend to be extremely focused, and companies are typically reluctant to expand protocols to pursue exploratory endpoints if there’s any chance this will diminish recruitment or adversely impact the development of the drug.

Given these complexities, it’s not surprising that some researchers have decided the best path forward is to start from scratch.  This is essentially the premise of Google’s Baseline Study, which aims to track a cohort of healthy patients, obtaining rich clinical phenotypic data at the outset (like a traditional academic clinical study), but then supplementing this with dynamic information from a range of wearable devices.  (Disclosure: GoogleGoogle Ventures is an investor in DNAnexus.)

Like prospective academic studies, Baseline will presumably take a while to yield results.  In addition, they will ultimately need to enroll a very large number of volunteers — far more than the 175 or so they’re starting out with.   Finally, while the reliance on objective measurement is understandable, it’s not clear to me whether there’s a component of traditional clinical assessment as well.

Over time, I suspect, the distinction between some of these approaches may disappear as wearable data increasingly become part of the EMR, and are obtained more regularly in prospective academic studies, and eventually, in pharma studies, like this recently announced Boehringer Ingelheim/Propeller Health pilot.  There also seems to be an increased focus on patient experience, as I discussed here.

At the same time, I’m especially sympathetic to the idea of creating a more perfect data union from the ground up.  I think the real question to ask is whether the right place to start is a novel clinical study, like Baseline — or a novel clinical system?


Readers might enjoy previous post, “Next Hurdle For Medical Research: Capture and Integration Of Phenotype At Scale“

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It's time for the next wave of healthcare analytics startups

It's time for the next wave of healthcare analytics startups | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

“Big data” and analytics applied to healthcare is a hot area of investment. This year alone, roughly $200 million of venture capital dollars has been allocated to the space (according to Rock Health). I’m here to tell you that these glory days are gone.

New startups are finding it difficult to differentiate from the swath of other companies unless they have something extremely novel.

While I still believe in the transformative power of data in healthcare (I’ve had two successful exits with analytics companies: RxAnte and Humedica), it’s increasingly clear to me that the current space is beginning to commoditize:

A lot of companies are chasing the same targets. Large providers and insurers are increasingly finding it hard to choose amongst vendors — and as a result, pricing for pure analytics is decreasing.Most platforms provide extremely useful clinical insights, but rely on an end user that they don’t control to act. Hence these companies have no accountability for reducing the cost of healthcare and improving outcomes.Providers and payers are bombarded by different vendors every day. Some offer very elegant data visualization but not necessarily “new” or “better” data, and the underlying issues of accountability and pricing pressure remain.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: There is still plenty of opportunity for startups in this space!

To hear more about the opportunities for startups and investors in healthcare, join VentureBeat at HealthBeat 2014, Oct. 27-28 in San Francisco,

where Mo Kaushal will be diving deeper into the topic.

Evolving policies around payment model reform (in which providers will be paid based on outcomes, not just services rendered) and meaningful use bonus payments for electronic medical record (EMR) adoption demonstrate that the healthcare industry is in the early days of transformation. Ongoing technology innovation, macroeconomics, and policy reactions will continue to accelerate the shift.

This creates a world of opportunity of the healthcare analytics entrepreneur. Despite my concerns over traditional healthcare data analytics companies, there are a few areas I believe we need to accelerate.

Here are some of the criteria I believe will be required in the next generation of healthcare analytics companies:

1. New business models.  For example, companies that are building out a service around a core piece of technology and that can deliver this service much more cost-effectively than any other incumbent competitor.

Navihealth is a great example of this. Navihealth’s core analytics uses patient function to predict the ideal setting upon discharge, coupled with a service model that helps optimize individual care in each post-acute facility. In other words, people in conjunction with the right technology targeting an at-risk business model has helped create a very unique value proposition to end customers.

2. Advanced, proprietary technologies. Beyond data analytics, next-generation artificial intelligence platforms will drive the next wave of innovation. New platforms must be able to ingest multi-source data and reveal novel insights that are actionable and not commoditized. These solutions will displace many current platforms as the data output becomes more valuable.

Vicarious is attacking the market for artificial intelligence by building a unified algorithmic architecture. Along the way, Vicarious has also secured investment from many of the biggest names in tech, including Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos, Jerry Yang, and Marc Benioff (to name a few). I’m also aware of some interesting examples of companies doing this in healthcare, but to my knowledge none of them has emerged from stealth — so watch this space!

3. High-value data sets that can’t be replicated. Companies that can provide proprietary data sets that can’t otherwise be easily obtained are increasingly setting a high bar for entry for new healthcare analytics startups.

This is one of the key reasons Optum acquired Humedica. Humedica is able to extract, standardize, and analyze millions of fully integrated clinical data versus just claims information.

As an investor, my dollars for healthcare analytics companies have already been invested, and it’s time for the next wave of innovation. For my money, healthcare entrepreneurs must focus on unique niches where little competition exists, and they must address those markets using differentiated technologies, data sets, and business models that target large problems.

Where do you see healthcare investment potential?

Mohit (Mo) Kaushal is a partner at Aberdare Ventures. He’s an MD MBA with extensive experience within clinical medicine, venture capital, and health policy. Prior to Aberdare, he was Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Business Development at West Health, where he developed the West Health Investment Fund strategy and sourced and led investments. Prior to that he was the Director of Connected Health with the FCC, where he established the agency’s first dedicated health care team. He was also a member of the White House Health IT task force, a cross agency team focusing on implementing the technology aspects of Health Reform.

HealthBeat — VentureBeat’s breakthrough health tech event — is returning on Oct 27-28 in San Francisco. This year’s theme is “The connected age: Integrating data, big & small.” We’re putting long-established giants of the health care world on stage with CEOs of the nation's most disruptive health tech companies to share insights, analyze trends, and showcase breakthrough products. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!
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Now comes Moneyball for health IT | Healthcare IT News

Now comes Moneyball for health IT | Healthcare IT News | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

An overarching theme from a vendor's first analytics conference is similar to something that that EHR vendors have been saying for years: workflow and organizational culture are at least as important as the technology itself when it comes to healing healthcare through IT.
"It's a whole cultural change from a clinician's point of view," Bryan Bohman, MD, associate CMO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics, as well as CMO of the Stanford-affiliated University HealthCare Alliance, said at analytics company Health Catalyst's inaugural Healthcare Analytics Summit last week.
"You have to understand that it's a process, that medicine is a team sport," Bohman continued. "That's a bridge too far for many physicians today," especially those trained to believe that their judgment should be the last word.
Physicians, of course, will fight any perceived incursion on their turf, but Bohman suggested framing workflow changes as a move to improve their quality of life. "It's nice to know that you're Superman, but it's very stressful," the practicing anesthesiologist said.
With this in mind, Health Catalyst invited Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane — he of "Moneyball" fame — to keynote the opening session. (Beane's speakers' bureau effectively gagged the media on his speech, but other presenters referred often to the 2011 movie starring Brad Pitt.)
To get buy-in for analytics — or any project requiring cultural change — "invite people who aren't normally there,"  said Gene Thomas, CIO of Gulfport (Miss.) Memorial Hospital.
In the Hollywood movie, Pitt's Beane did this by having Jonah Hill's "Peter Brand" character loosely based on ex-Athletics Assistant GM Paul DePodesta, sit in on a meeting with skeptical, old-school baseball scouts to explain how Beane was employing analytics to assess the value of players. Thomas did this with clinical leaders prior to deploying a Health Catalyst enterprise data warehouse in conjunction with the rollout of a new Cerner EHR earlier this year.
In return, Thomas knew he had an important job to do for the clinical staff: Make analytics information relevant and useful. "Data has to be high-integrity, projectable and real-time," he said.
At the event, Health Catalyst released a document called the "Accountable Care Transformation Framework." It mentioned "workflow no less than 30 times.
And Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton stated what many of the more than 500 people in attendance were thinking: Analytics can become the foundation for health transformation. "Let us resolve to act, to be true catalysts," he said.

The message seemed to resonate. In an informal, real-time poll of about 150 people in a breakout session about making analytics a strategic imperative, a slim majority said that their organization's analytics vendor is more important than its EHR vendor.
A possible reason? "Availability of data has never been a problem at Geisinger," said Geisinger Health System CEO Glenn D. Steele Jr., MD. The big issue there, and at so many other provider organizations, is usability of data.
Crystal Run Healthcare, a physician-owned multispecialty practice based in Middletown, N.Y., has had a NextGen Healthcare Information Systems EHR since 1999. Late last year, the 300-physician group installed its first enterprise data warehouse, bringing business intelligence not only to the billing department, but also to human resources and materials management. EHR data warehouses do not always do that, noted CMO and CMIO Gregory Spencer, MD.
"BI is moving more from IT to analysis," Spencer said, "and from financial reporting to clinical guidance." It is his job to figure out how and what to measure and to display the results in way that will be useful to his fellow physicians. And the job will only get more difficult, as Spencer expects to start integrating data from social media and genomics in the next 3-5 years.

[See also: Health Catalyst shows Midas touch.]
Mission Health System in Asheville, N.C., is in a similar position. "We are shifting our culture to use information to drive change, even without an EDW," said CIO Jon Brown. "The organization is finally ready for an EDW."

It took a while to get to this point, despite strong clinician and administrator demand for data in recent years. "Data became cool at Mission Health," said CIO Jon Brown. Everyone asked for it but nobody did much with it, so nothing changed.
As part of a nascent three-year plan, Mission Health launched an accountable care organization in July, and Brown hopes to have it operational in the next couple of months. The goal is to begin actively managing population health by January 2016 and to break even on Medicare patients in a rapidly aging community that is seeing an influx of retirees moving in from overcrowded Florida, Brown said.

[See also: Partners and Health Catalyst join forces.]
"Stay focused on the vision," Brown said, explaining that with data and analytics, more is not always better, and that fellow CIOs would do well not to get bogged down in producing reports for the sake of producing reports. "Data has got to drive change," he said

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NHS could save billions a year through data analytics - report | Information Age

NHS could save billions a year through data analytics - report | Information Age | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

A new report –  'Sustaining Universal Healthcare: Making Better Use of Information' – released today by Volterra Partners and EMC has outlined how data analytics and better use of information can improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery in the UK by up to 60%, with the potential to save the NHS between £16.5 billion and £66 billion per year.

The NHS is currently facing a £34 billion funding gap by 2020 and radical action is needed to preserve its core values of 'providing free healthcare for everyone'. The report recommends the use of information sharing and collaboration to deliver a proactive, personalised Wellness Model structure, focused on prevention.

'There has been considerable speculation that the NHS, as a universal healthcare institution, cannot continue in its current form,'  Nick Bosanquet, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy at Imperial College and economist at Volterra Partners, commented.

'We need drastic change to cope with the increasing demands from an ageing population, chronic health conditions and emergency readmissions. The report estimates that with better informatics, cancer admissions could be reduced by 30%. This example and other predicted savings calculated in the study offer a clear path to delivering the Wellness Model.'

> See also: The NHS is sick- big data could be the cure

The report exposes the gap between the NHS and other industries in its use of data analytics and technology. The lack of electronic records, predictive analytics, collaboration and effective monitoring of patient and treatment outcomes, in addition to personalised care, is leading to failures and financial inefficiencies that are unsustainable in the long-term.

There are pockets of excellence across the UK where data analytics has been effectively employed to deliver better quality of care for patients. If these examples were implemented nationally this would result in savings of £840 million per year due to a reduction in A&E attendances; £200 million per year through reduced complications due to diabetes; £126 million per year through better care management for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Up to £32 million per year through the reduction of readmission rates and £5 billion of savings in staff time through more efficient working practices.

> See also: Medway Hospital seeks big savings as software connects it to NHS spine

Scotland has used informatics technology to provide an integrated care model for the treatment of diabetes. This collaborative data-driven project has yielded impressive results with the incidence of lower extremity amputation decreasing by 30% over four years and major amputations falling by 40.7%. The report estimates that if the same system was implemented in England, it could result in 1,775 fewer amputations, saving the NHS £37 million per year.

> See also: Monitoring the health of NHS IT

The report identifies a number of recommendations to enhance patient care, including speeding up the accessibility of data and communicating the benefits to patients and GPs ahead of time to build trust and buy in, collaboration at a local level with health institutions and academia, investment in appropriate skills in the health workforce to handle and use data effectively, and a change in culture within the Department of Health to drive a real shift to the Wellness Model, rather than just using data to improve performance management

- See more at:

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Analyst: Apple's financial impact on mHealth worth billions

Analyst: Apple's financial impact on mHealth worth billions | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

Apple's foray into mHealth, given its reported upcoming iWatch device, its moves into electronic health record technology and the development of its HealthKit platform, will have a dramatic impact on healthcare and advance mHealth like few other initiatives, according to a report at Product Design & Development.

Via Alex Butler
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IBM Sees Broader Role for Watson in Aiding Research

IBM Sees Broader Role for Watson in Aiding Research | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

Watson, the IBM system that won “Jeopardy,” has shown promise in answering some kinds of questions. Now the company sees a broader role, a bit like the deductions that helped its namesake’s famous partner solve fictional crimes.

The company on Thursday is announcing advances in the technology and the availability of what it calls IBM’s Watson Discovery Advisor, a cloud service that it says can help research teams analyze vast troves of data to come up with new research ideas.

IBM is also pointing to a peer-reviewed case study to back up its claims. It describes how a tool based on Watson–developed at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston–was able to sort through about 70,000 scientific papers for relevant data about a particular protein and generate hypotheses that could be tested by scientists.


Watson is a collection of algorithms and software that runs on IBM’s Power line of servers, available for customers to use from its own data centers. Its components are designed to derive meaning more human language, and learn from data and other observations as opposed to being explicitly programmed to carry out instructions.

The company hasn’t generated a lot of measurable revenue from Watson so far, but it is betting that the extension of the technology from answering questions to generating hypotheses should help.

“Discovery is a lot more subtle,” said John Gordon, vice president in IBM’s Watson group. “You are trying to find connections.”

In the study, biologists and data scientists using the technology were able to identify proteins that modify p53, a protein related to many cancers. But the broader point was to show the potential of letting computers analyze data and make useful suggestions about it, amid a flood of research being generated by companies and other institutions.

“The literature is immense,” said Olivier Lichtarge, a professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor who was the principal investigator on the study. “It is very difficult for any researcher to thoroughly master.”

Gordon said a related motivation is that many research dead-ends generate data that ends up on the cutting room floor. With the aid of Watson, companies could better mine that private information and combine it with scientific data in the public domain.

One company studying such possibilities to evaluate medications and treatments is Johnson & Johnson, IBM said.

But the company sees applications beyond the health realm, including making automated suggestions based on financial, legal, energy and intelligence-related information, IBM said.


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How transparency of medical records can lead to enhanced outcomes

How transparency of medical records can lead to enhanced outcomes | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The woman was sitting on a gurney in the emergency room, and I was facing her, typing. I had just written about her abdominal pain when she posed a question I'd never been asked before: "May I take a look at what you're writing?"

At the time, I was a fourth-year medical resident in Boston. In our ER, doctors routinely typed visit notes, placed orders and checked past records while we were in patients' rooms. To maintain at least some eye contact, we faced our patients, with the computer between us.

But there was no reason why we couldn't be on the same side of the computer screen. I sat down next to her and showed her what I was typing. She began pointing out changes. She'd said that her pain had started three weeks ago, not last week. Her chart mentioned alcohol abuse in the past; she admitted that she was under a lot of stress and had returned to heavy drinking a couple of months ago.

As we talked, her diagnosis — inflammation of the pancreas from alcohol use — became clear, and I wondered why I'd never shown patients their records before. In medical school, we learn that medical records exist so that doctors can communicate with other doctors. No one told us about the benefits they could bring when shared with patients.

In fact, before the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law enacted in 1996, patients generally had to sue to see their records. HIPAA, as that mouthful is abbreviated, affirmed that patients have a right to their medical information. But the process for obtaining records was often so cumbersome that few patients tried to access them.

In 2010, Tom Delbanco, an internist, and Jan Walker, a nurse and researcher, started anexperiment called OpenNotes that let patients read what their primary care providers write about them. They hypothesized that giving patients access to notes would allow them to become more engaged in their care.

Many doctors resisted the idea. Wouldn't open medical records inhibit what they wrote about sensitive issues, such as substance abuse? What if patients misunderstood the notes? Would that lead to more lawsuits? And what would patients do with all the information anyway?

After the first year, the results were striking: 80 percent of patients who saw their records reported better understanding of their medical condition and said they were in better control of their health. Two-thirds reported that they were better at sticking with their prescriptions. Ninety-nine percent of the patients wanted OpenNotes to continue, and no doctor withdrew from the pilot. Instead, they shared anecdotes like mine. When patients see their records, there's more trust and more accuracy.

That day in the Boston ER was a turning point for me. Since I started sharing notes with my patients, they have made dozens of valuable corrections and changes, such as adding medication allergies and telling me when a previous medical problem has been resolved. We come up with treatment plans together. And when patients leave, they receive a copy of my detailed instructions. The medical record becomes a collaborative tool for patients, not just a record of what we doctors do to patients.

The OpenNotes experiment has become something of a movement, spreading to hospitals, health systems and doctors' offices across the country. The Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Health System and Veterans Affairs are among the adopters so far. (The OpenNotes project has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also provides financial support to NPR.)

But there are new controversies arising. Should patients receiving mental health servicesobtain full access to therapy records, or should there be limits to open records? What happens if patients want to share their records on social media? Will such "crowdsourcing" harm the doctor-patient relationship? What if patients want to develop their own record andvideotape their medical encounter? Are doctors obligated to comply?

Delbanco tells me that he considers OpenNotes to be "like a new medication." Just like any new treatment, it will come with unexpected side effects. In the meantime, patients and doctors don't need to wait for the formal OpenNotes program to come to town. Patients can ask their doctors directly to look at their records. Doctors can try sharing them with patients, in real time, as I do now. It's changed my practice, and fundamentally transformed my understanding of whom the medical record ultimately belongs to: the patient.

Wen is an attending physician and director of patient-centered care research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University. She is the author of"When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Care," and founder of Who's My Doctor, a project to encourage transparency in medicine. On Twitter:

FamilyCaregiverAlliance's curator insight, August 20, 2014 7:37 PM

Why caregivers and their loved ones should not be hesitant but straightforward about what they want to know from doctors at  medical appointments . . .

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Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future

Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
Digitally savvy executives are already aligning their people, processes, and culture to achieve their organizations’ long-term digital success.
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Amazon And IBM Just Kicked The Internet Of Things Into High Gear

Amazon And IBM Just Kicked The Internet Of Things Into High Gear | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The IoT or the “Internet Of Things” seems to be all the rage these days, from smart home automation and security devices, to connected, autonomous vehicles. However, what’s key about this new trend in technology is not only the ideas for better, smarter devices that are born from this growth market, but also how companies actually execute to make these things really useful in our day-to-day lives. Industry titans like Intel and Google have already made some advances in delivering products that begin to build the framework of the IOT, and today two more major league players just stepped into the arena.

Amazon and IBM offered a couple of notable announcements today, both of which highlight the infrastructure that needs to be in place to support the IOT in the first place. First, let’s look at Amazon’s new Dash Button.

Amazon’s Dash buttons will allow you re-order your Tide… or Dash, with one click.

Yep, you guessed it. Amazon has figured out a way to make your dumb home appliances smart by engineering home WiFi-connected product buttons that can be configured for reordering online or through a smartphone app, so when you’re starting to run out, all you do is hit a button and an order is kicked off to Amazon. Brilliant! You say. Well, truth told the bright idea of smart appliances that re-order groceries and other provisions for you is nothing new. However, what Amazon has achieved here, along with the help of latest in enabling technologies in wireless connectivity and low power microcontrollers, is essentially a field retrofit of existing devices that will now be able to phone back home to good ol’ Amazon to place orders for your most frequent consumables. It is brilliant, actually, though long-term the technology just needs to be integrated into appliances or other devices, I think. These little band-aide buttons do get us from no connectivity to connectedness however, because no one is going to rip out a washing machine or refrigerator, coffee maker etc, just so they can more easily re-order consumables. You have to hand it to Amazon for thinking outside the box with this one – literally and figuratively.

IBM’s Watson Supercomputer – Credit: Wikimedia

Then there’s IBM’s announcement of their new $3 billion dollar investment over the next four years in their new IoT division. Big Blue will be working on platform infrastructure for a bunch of little things all talking over the internet. It almost sounds funny. However, “big data” is being generated in massive amounts from all these connected things. And you can be sure data centers to handle the requests as well as process the analytics workload required for improvements in services and efficiency, will have huge demand over the next few years. “Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result,” notes Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, IBM Analytics.

It’s all coming into focus a little more each day and these two announcements today just strike me as a sign of things to come; as if the floodgates will soon open up with new technologies and capabilities that take the IoT from what sounds like a cool concept, to real-world usefulness in our every day lives.

I’m not sure I’m ready for my every move and need to be tracked, calculated and eventually marketed to, but I think we were already there a while ago anyway, so we might as well embrace it. Let’s just hope the good folks in the security sector have the chops to lock it all down soon too.

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Mayo Clinic shares analytics with other providers

Mayo Clinic shares analytics with other providers | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
Mayo Clinic is publishing commercialized analytics tools on the Apervita platform, offering other healthcare organizations the chance to leverage its clinical knowledge.
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How Health Care Organizations Can Get More Out of Big Health Data

How Health Care Organizations Can Get More Out of Big Health Data | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
Use big data wisely by automating tasks, personalizing treatment and improving communication between physicians and patients.

In our information-infused age, health care organizations can use big data to improve quality of care and outcomes for patients, especially those with chronic conditions. Equally important, they can harness the power of big data to prevent diseases and improve wellness initiatives.

Growing use of electronic health records plays a big role in building up health care data sets. As of last year, nearly six in 10 hospitals had adopted at least a basic EHR system, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and 93 percent had a certified EHR system in place. The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey also showed that in 2013, close to 80 percent of office-based physicians used some type of EHR system. These systems play host to structured and unstructured data — including a mountain of physician notes — for millions of patients across the country, all of it ripe for use in analytics to help improve and personalize treatments as well as in predictive modeling to better understand where risks lie.

Doing the Right Thing

A recent conversation I had with Blackford Middleton, M.D., chief informatics officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, made it plain that leading-edge institutions want to build clinical decision support systems that exploit big data — an organization's high-volume, high-variety, high-velocity information assets. The goal, as the good doctor put it: "to ensure the right things happen for the right patient at the right time."

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is taking on some big data–infused efforts to improve the quality of care it renders under the new value-based health care services model. At the same time, it wants to use big data to reduce unnecessary services.

"We don't need to do thousands of hospital and ambulatory care tests that don't impact care outcomes. Do more of the right ones and fewer of the wrong ones and you will lower costs and increase the value of care provided," Middleton says. Those same results can be achieved when health care systems analyze big data to help a patient avoid a single emergency clinical visit, for example, or an inappropriate medication that has adverse effects.

A big part of getting to this end, though, is moving to a continuous care model that extends the doctor-patient connection beyond scheduled visits. Good continuous care is dependent on more regular infusions of patient data than the updates generated during visits — it requires engaging the patient to be a more active participant in his or her own health care.

It also means investing in communications and other technologies so patients can respond more easily to between-appointment recommendations such as changes in treatment plans. And, it requires coming up with solutions to ensure that the data obtained can be put to use effectively. Such extensions of the connection between the health care team and the patient should translate into successful outcomes and mitigate excessive care costs.

The Road to Better Health Care

Here are five ways your health care organization can work with patients, and with their data, to build a better care model:

Make the patient a responsible member of the health care team. In some respects, it's easier than ever to do so, given the range of smartphone apps, fitness wristbands, smart watches and other tools to record exercise, food intake, weight and blood pressure and transmit it to health care providers. Maybe, suggests Middleton, health care providers should take a closer look at ways to use these tools to make such data contributions into a gamelike experience "to maximize the health care productivity function for each patient."

For example, perhaps patients with high blood pressure conditions can accumulate points for every reading they transmit, and once they reach a certain number, exchange them for a coupon for a healthy smoothie at their next doctor visit. Understanding how various measures consistently trend over time, after all, can be important for doctors treating patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even depression.

Think ahead to a holistic approach to data acquisition and analysis. In addition to driving a continuous care model with the help of patients' self-reported information on structured data points, other data — perhaps in unstructured format — can be included in the patient-care analytics mix. As Middleton points out, social, cultural and environmental factors play a big part in people's health and can provide important context for health care management. Commentary on social networks, employee wellness program information and community health statistics — all are venues that might provide useful data related to these parts of patients' lives.

As Middleton says, "There are a lot of issues to be wrestled with," such as getting patients to authorize access by providers to their private information. "But, I think it will come. I think patients will be willing to trade off what's viewed as privacy against what they may view as bringing convenience or value to them."

There is an opportunity, as well, to combine a better clinical understanding of patients with an already robust financial understanding of those same individuals, based on the data stored within health care organizations' administrative systems. Incorporating patient receivables data into health care analytics processes, for example, can help a health care system to understand if it has been successful at effectively engaging patients in their own health care.

Remove the noise. While there is value to be gained from adopting electronic medical records, health care organizations also find that the current generation often floods them with too much undifferentiated information. It's a work in progress for many hospitals to synthesize and distill from that flood the essential signals that pertain to the care of a particular condition for a particular patient. And, as data come in from more sources, perhaps in different formats, the synthesis and distilling challenges are poised to grow.

Vanderbilt is taking steps to meet aspects of the challenge of highlighting important EHR data with projects like Pharmacogenomic Resource for Enhanced Decisions in Care and Treatment, or PREDICT. PREDICT works so that automatic point-of-care decision support is launched when a certain drug is prescribed for individuals whose EHR data indicate that they are at risk for variant genotypes. "Personalization becomes very real," Middleton says.

Let the data inform task automation. As more information becomes part of the health care equation, health care professionals can spend more time doing what they love: engaging in the hands-on care part of the equation while letting data analytics drive task completion.

For example, it is possible to have data from EHRs, sensors and wearable medical devices feed into the health care provider's patient engagement system and trigger just-in-time patient engagement communications specific to that individual. That way, a health care worker doesn't have to, for example, manually monitor incoming data to direct a response to a spike in a patient's glucose levels. Rather, business rules can be created to assess the level of urgency and take the appropriate next step, such as scheduling a screening appointment if the rise in glucose levels was minimal.

Better facilitate feedback from providers to patients.Health care communications infrastructures have unfortunately lagged behind those found in many other sectors. The ability to acquire and analyze more data to drive best-evidence and best-experience recommendations in a continuous care model can't be underestimated.

But the promise of technologies such as wearable devices and EHRs is negated if providers can't deliver their findings — or any information, advice or encouragement — to patients using the communications pathways a patient prefers, whether that's via Web portals or personalized, automated emails, voice mails or text messages. According to the TeleVox Healthy World Research Initiative, for example, close to 50 percent of patients prefer email for communications about patient care between visits, followed by text messaging at 31 percent.

Sadly, when patients disengage, health care organizations risk recurrence of events that might otherwise have been avoided. Says Middleton, "Patients' preferences and utilities impact to a great degree how we see them engage in care or pursue healthy outcomes and behavior."

We know there will be obstacles to overcome in adopting new ways of working with patients and data to turn the vision of continuous care into a reality. But we also know that we can't fail — not if we are to create a more healthful populace without further driving up health care costs.
Scott Zimmerman is a published authority on using technology to engage and activate patients. He is the president of TeleVox Software and spearheads TeleVox's Healthy World initiative, which uses ethnographic research to uncover, understand and interpret patient and provider points of view.

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Poor interoperability a significant barrier for ACOs

Poor interoperability a significant barrier for ACOs | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

Though designed to improve care by sharing data from various sources, poor interoperability remains a huge barrier to accountable care organizations (ACOs), according to a survey from Premier and the eHealth Initiative.

In fact, all 62 ACOs responding to the online poll reported that access to data from external sources was a challenge for their organization.

"Even when ACOs have successfully adopted and merged HIT systems, they aren't able to effectively leverage data and analytics to derive value out of their investments," Keith J. Figlioli, Premier's senior vice president of healthcare informatics and member of the Office of the National Coordinator's Health IT Standards Committee, said in an announcement.



Those problems could stymie cost and quality improvements going forward.

Among the findings:

88 percent of the ACOs face significant obstacles in integrating data from disparate sources83 percent report challenges integrating technology analytics into workflowInteroperability of disparate systems is a significant challenge for 95 percent of organizationsAt least 90 percent of respondents cited the cost and return on investment of HIT as a key barrier to further implementationsAs ACOs pull data from more sources, they also report lower abilities to leverage their HIT infrastructure to support care coordination, patient engagement, population health management and quality measurement

These organizations have technology in place to improve clinical quality, the most common being electronic health records (86 percent), disease registry (74 percent), data warehouse (68 percent), clinical decision support (58 percent), and health information exchange (44 percent.)

However, the technology for distance-based medicine was less common. Only 38 percent had secure messaging, 36 percent had referral-management tools, 34 percent provided phone-based telemedicine and 26 percent had video-based telemedicine. That raises concern about rural ACOs' ability to leverage health IT to effectively manage remote populations, the authors said.

A previous eHealth Initiative survey found ACOs have made little progress in boosting their health IT capabilities in the past year. Seventy-six percent of respondents in that poll did not participate in a health information exchange at an enterprise, community or state level.

A study from Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, found robust analytics infrastructure that reports data in real time to care teams key to success for ACOs.

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Big Data: The Amazing Ways GE Is Using It For Success

Big Data: The Amazing Ways GE Is Using It For Success | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

General Electric – a literal powerhouse of a corporation involved in virtually every area of industry, has been laying the foundations of what it grandly calls the Industrial Internet for some time now.

But what exactly is it? In this post I will try and give a basic overview of the ideas which they are hoping will transform industry, and how it’s all built around big data.

If you’ve heard about the Internet of Things which I’ve written about previously, a simple way to think of the industrial internet is as a subset of that, which includes all the data-gathering, communicating and analysis done in industry.

In essence, the idea is that all the separate machines and tools which make an industry possible will be “smart” - connected, data-enabled and constantly reporting their status to each other in ways as creative as their engineers and data scientists can devise.

This will increase efficiency by allowing every aspect of an industrial operation to be monitored and tweaked for optimal performance, and reduce down-time – machinery will break down less often if we know exactly the best time to replace a worn part.

Data is behind this transformation, specifically the new tools that technology is giving us to record and analyze every aspect of a machine’s operation. And GE is certainly not data poor – according to Wikipedia its 2005 tax return extended across 24,000 pages when printed out.

And pioneering is deeply engrained in its corporate culture – being established by Thomas Edison, as well as the first private company in the world to own its own computer system, in the 1960s.

So of all the industrial giants of the pre-online world, it isn’t surprising they are blazing a trail into the brave new world of big data.

GE generates power at its plants which is used to drive the manufacturing that goes on in its factories, and its financial divisions enable the multi-million transactions involved when they are bought and sold. With fingers in this many pies, it’s clearly in the position to generate, analyze and act on a great deal of data.

Sensors embedded in their power turbines, jet engines and hospital scanners will collect the data – it’s estimated that one typical gas turbine will generate 500Gb of data every day. And if that data can be used to improve efficiency by just 1% across five of their key sectors that they sell to, those sectors stand to make combined savings of $300 billion.

With those kinds of savings within sight, it isn’t surprising that GE is investing heavily. In 2012 they announced $1 billion was being invested over four years in their state of the art San Ramon, California analytics centre, in order to attract pioneering data talent to lay the software foundations of the Industrial Internet.

In aviation, they are aiming to improve fuel economy, maintenance costs, reduction in delays and cancellations and optimise flight scheduling – while also improving safety.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways was the first to deploy their Taleris Intelligent Operations technology, developed in partnership with Accenture.

Huge amounts of data are recorded from every aircraft and every aspect of ground operations, which is reported in real-time and targeted specifically to recovering from disruption, and returning to regular schedule.

And last year it launched its Hadoop based database system to allow its industrial customers to move its data to the cloud. It claims it has built the first infrastructure which is solid enough to meet the demands of big industry, and works with its GE Predictivity service to allow real-time automated analysis. This means machines can order new parts for themselves and expensive downtime minimized – GE estimates that its contractors lose an average of $8 million per year due to unplanned downtime.

Green industries are benefitting too – its 22,000 wind turbines across the globe are rigged with sensors which stream constant data to the cloud, which operators can use to remotely fine-tune the pitch, speed, and direction the blades are facing, to capture as much of the energy from the wind as possible.

Each turbine will speak to others around it, too – allowing automated responses such as adapting their behaviour to mimic more efficient neighbours, and pooling of resources (i.e wind speed monitors) if the device on one turbine should fail.

Their data gathering extends into homes too – millions are fitted with their smart meters which record data on power consumption, which is analyzed together with weather and even social media data to predict when power cuts or shortages will occur.

GE has come further and faster into the world of big data than most of its old-school tech competitors. It’s clear they believe the financial incentive is there – chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt estimates that they could add $10 trillion to $15 trillion to the world’s economy over the next two decades. In industry, where everything including resources is finite, efficiency is of utmost importance – and GE are demonstrating with the Industrial Internet that they believe big data is the key to unlocking its potential.

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Data analytics, patient safety are top FDA priorities in 2014 |

Data analytics, patient safety are top FDA priorities in 2014 | | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
The increased use of data analytics for speedier clinical trials, more efficient regulation, and better population health management is at the top of the priorities list for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the next four years, according to its latest FDA Strategic priorities report.  Analytics will be the foundation of several of the FDA’s ongoing initiatives, including reducing tobacco use, developing new methods of testing medical products and conducting clinical trials, and identifying health consequences of certain products or behaviors.“An increasingly global and complex marketplace, rapidly evolving technologies, and emerging areas of science are having a major impact on FDA’s mission to promote and protect the public health,” the report says. “FDA must tackle these new challenges expeditiously, as we continue to meet our core responsibilities. Working collaboratively with our international regulatory partners, we will continue efforts towards international harmonization and regulatory convergence. We achieve this by using smart regulatory approaches to streamline and modernize our regulatory programs and minimize regulatory uncertainty for industry, while protecting and maximizing public health and safety.”In order to accomplish its four core goals of oversight, access, informed decision-making and organization excellence, the FDA will rely on regulatory science, globalization, safety and quality, smart regulation, and financial stewardship.  At the heart of these strategies will be the use of analytics to inform standards for product development, distribution, and safety, as well as ways to detect consumer safety issues, risks, and adverse events.“FDA is already taking concrete steps to advance safety and quality across the Agency,” the report added.  “For example, the Case for Quality Initiative, which includes a voluntary compliance improvement program pilot, promotes medical device quality. The planned Office of Pharmaceutical Quality will highlight and consolidate quality principles and review throughout the drug lifecycle.”The Case for Quality Initiative will include a voluntary compliance improvement pilot program for medical devices, which “aims to reduce the risk of patient harm by helping manufacturers identify and deploy quality-related design and production practices,” the brief explains.  The Agency will also work to improve understanding of regulatory requirements and provide guidance to healthcare stakeholders and consumers through new rules and standards.“If biomedical science is to deliver on its promise, scientific creativity and effort must also focus on improving the medical product development process itself, with the explicit goal of robust development pathways that are efficient and predictable and result in products that are safe, effective, and available to patients,” the report concludes.

“Although FDA’s primary responsibility is to review the safety and effectiveness of new medical products developed by industry, the Agency is also committed to assisting product developers in translating discoveries in basic science into new therapies that will save lives and improve health care.”

Keith McGuinness's curator insight, October 8, 2014 8:37 PM

It would seem that a behavior change apps that demonstrate continued effectiveness would delight the FDA, and not require 'regulation.'  This seem as it should be.  Now we just have to incentivize behavior change app developers to measure outcomes, and get someone respected in the halls of academic research to bless the method of app data surveillance.  We are on it.

Oh yeah, one more thing...we need a payer to make this work.

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Analytics in the era of value-based care

Analytics in the era of value-based care | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The power of revenue cycle and population health analytics multiplies when you manage them together


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Shift to Healthcare Consumerism: The Business of Healthcare

Our last healthcare blog, Meaningful Use: A Valuable Asset, focused on utilizing Meaningful Use and theHITECH Act as a means to effect positive change. We left off with the recommended shift to healthcare consumerism and provider relationship management.

What does that even mean? Healthcare consumerism is generally accepted as the movement to empower patients to be more involved in their own care and its associated clinical decision making. While accurate, I believe it should be expanded to include the shift of a provider organization's sole focus on the physician and move more towards the patient, which in this realm serves as the true customer / consumer.

In the world of business, the current healthcare model is unheard of. The healthcare provider market specifically has shunned a traditional "business model" for too long. It is hard to name another industry where the entire organization is so fiercely focused and built around the product or service provider, even at the expense of the customer relationship.

Most providers don't even have a classic sales, marketing, or business development function focused on patient acquisition. They serve whatever patients walk in the door, or are referred to them by other providers. While there is some focus around it in the market today, even referral management isn't a major organizational priority.

Organic growth is often not even considered. Growth most often happens through the acquisition of other providers, individual physicians, or physician practices.

Providers also tend to land on one end of the spectrum or the other; either specialty clinics focused on a specific service line or specialty, or a Walmart approach providing a full line of services to all patients.

This is the multi-net fishing approach; the more nets that you have out, the more fish you will catch, rather than the utilization of a specific bait to lure a specific kind of fish.

For too long, the focus has been on just clinical and operational improvement. Healthcare needs to start additionally focusing on patient acquisition and revenue generation.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the best source for new patients is still physician and specialty referrals, but physician relationship management should be viewed as a vessel for patient acquisition rather than the goal itself.

Shouldn't providers identify and focus resources on service lines that are the most profitable and provide the highest standard of care? Acquiring patients that you want to serve based on a variety of factors that may include payer-mix, disease, service line, demographics, etc.

Even if your mission is to serve all patients, even including indigent care, as a great deal of the faith- and religious-based providers do, you should still have a focused patient acquisition strategy in order to better serve your entire patient base. The resulting revenue and profitability increase can be invested back into care delivery and clinical operations, by providing top tier physicians and technology and additional capacity in order to better serve your entire patient population.

To support these ideas, we need a new emphasis on provider and physician relationship management with a goal of targeted patient acquisition. We will address that in our next post Patient Acquisition Through Physician Relationship Management so stay tuned!

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A smarter way to find new drugs

A smarter way to find new drugs | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

The pharma sector needs to embrace emerging technologies like Big Data analytics and cloud computing

What is the secret sauce of accelerating innovation when it comes to critical areas such as drug discovery, personalised medicines or simulated healthcare? Embracing continual innovation was always an imperative for the life sciences companies to stay relevant, and stay alive. This is not just confined to the new drug discovery team within the company, it spans the entire value chain of the innovation ecosystem. The question is whether enough is being done to drive R&D innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.

And we cannot find the answers in silos. A cross-pollination of ideas across the ecosystem is vital as pharmaceutical companies are caught in the conundrum of navigating an increasingly complex global environment driven by competing market and consumer pressures, regulatory changes and a constant need for life-saving innovations.

Pressure on R&D
The truth is with investors getting wary, the price of drugs being perceived as high, and regulatory compliance getting increasingly stringent, R&D productivity is under tremendous pressure. Added to this, the introduction of innovative drugs has hit a slow track.

What compounds the woes is a high failure rate. Of every 5,000 projects, only one completes the drug development process and only one in five of these actually returns its R&D investment.

The time from drug discovery to approval can take up to 15 years; the average cost of bringing a pharmaceutical product to the market is $800 million and growing. The key to reducing costs lies in compressing the discovery cycle by eliminating redundant research and identifying new business models.

To sail smart in the new normal and thrive, pharmaceutical companies must tap emerging technologies such as big data analytics and cloud to streamline their IT operations and deliver safer and affordable healthcare for all. Advanced analytics, mathematical modelling and simulation tools and machine-based discovery technologies, enable enterprises to mine terabytes of data, uncover innovation opportunities and predict the most profitable research outcomes.

In addition to reducing cost, the optimal usage of such technologies can help save millions of lives and improve patient outcomes.

Disruptive technology
The good news is that with rising healthcare costs becoming a key constraint, enterprises, practitioners and policymakers are keen on exploring disruptive technologies to help solve critical, healthcare challenges.

For instance, a novel cloud-based clinical trial supply management solution helps life sciences companies significantly enhance efficiency of clinical trial processes by driving greater collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations.

Besides improving the productivity of the overall drug development process, this ensures timely and accurate supply of drugs to patients at reduced costs. As a result, enterprises can price products competitively while adhering to the stringent standards required to bring products safely to consumers.

Likewise, Big Data promises smarter healthcare — a paradigm shift from corrective to preventive medicine and personalised medicine, as silos of disparate information gives way to novel actionable insights for medicos.

With sophisticated data analytics technologies, machine learning software can point to abnormalities and predict health issues while smartphones and “iAnythings” are empowering the patient to monitor his health. As doctors rely on such technology for diagnosis and decision-making, there is a marked improvement in procedure performance, decreased healthcare costs, and improved patient-centric care.

Indeed, the emergence of advanced simulation technologies is proving a boon for better diagnosing osteoporosis and accurately quantifying fracture risk. This provides medical practitioners with a new, comprehensive and non-invasive way to examine individual bones and skeletal structure, and determine the best course of action.

Better understanding
For instance, 3D models simulating the working of the human heart offers medical professionals and scientists a near real-life scenario to improve understanding of the complexities of human heart disorders. The model simulates the heart’s functioning, in particular the deformation of heart tissues due to certain stress conditions.

While this helps medical professionals diagnose heart disorders faster and with a higher level of precision, it enables medical device manufacturers test and validate implants to detect and quickly correct anomalies. This is expected to lead to better-designed medical devices, faster regulatory and compliance approval, and improved time-to-market for those devices.

Promoting new life science technologies would require companies to forge a strong partnership across scientists, researchers and local communities — a collaboration rooted in transparency, clear guidelines for intellectual property and, most importantly, a patient-centric mindset.

Towards collaboration
For effective collaboration, data standardisation, integration and interoperability are vital. And information management, an important area on which pharmaceutical companies need to focus.

For instance, the entire clinical development process generates an enormous amount of data which is not efficiently used. If this information is integrated with that from the discovery phase and other studies, companies can garner insights that could result in new drugs or help avoid costly failures.

Making the clinical trial data available to all can accelerate the innovation trajectory and establish a stronger research foundation for the industry. While it requires an unwavering focus on future-oriented life-saving drugs and tech-enabled innovations to accelerate growth, the pharmaceutical industry must address drug prices and price discrepancies across regions.

Significantly, innovation thrives at the intersection of open collaboration amongst all the stakeholders including industry, academia, regulators, policymakers, government and investors. However, at the core of it remains a focus on patient-centric solutions to create a healthy economy and a pink planet.

(The writer is the CEO of EdgeVerve Systems_

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Population health and consumer centric healthcare are here to stay

Population health and consumer centric healthcare are here to stay | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
Population health and the increasing retail and consumer-minded approach are arguably the biggest shifts in the healthcare industry today, and they show little sign of letting up anytime soon.

So says healthcare consultancy firm the Advisory Board in a blog post, detailing potential strategies for providers.

“The truth of the matter is, retail medicine and population health are real, and probably around for the long haul,” writes Ben Umansky, noting that hospital leaders can be successful if they adopt the right strategies.

“We identified three strategic objectives in particular that are relevant in both types of markets:convenient access, lean cost structures, and a smart partnership strategy.”


Convenience is a new concept in healthcare overall, so it’s not hard to understand why consumers, aka patients, won’t put up with the old guard ways of arbitrary, cloaked-in-secrecy pricing and long wait times for seemingly simple procedures. But it also has an indirect benefit for population health.

“When it’s easier for patients to get care, or even just information, when they need it, they’re more likely to follow care plans.That means better outcomes and lower total costs. Patients are also more likely to stay within your network if they can always access it, so you can be confident that the returns on your care management investments will accrue to you, not your competition,” Umansky writes.

Just as the concept of convenience shouldn’t be hard to grasp, the same is true of lean cost structures, but it’s more important than ever to actually achieve it with the turbulent road ahead.

Finally, with all the consolidation that has occurred, a smart partnership strategy is vital for any hospital’s survival.

“No matter the form it takes (and it’s not always M&A), a smart partnership can strengthen any organization’s appeal to retail consumers.”

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Novartis’ mobile health strategy poised to move from tracking to virtual care | mobihealthnews

Novartis’ mobile health strategy poised to move from tracking to virtual care | mobihealthnews | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |

While Novartis’ recent partnership with Google and its longtime relationship with Proteus have indicated that the pharma company has an interest in digital health, a page on the company’s website, added this summer, lays out its broad vision and explicit interest in mobile health specifically. The company even has a mobile health strategy lead, Michele Angelaccio, who holds the title of Associate Director US Mobile Health Strategy at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

“We have a unique understanding of the challenges doctors and patients are facing, and can help guide startups in building and testing proposed solutions,” Angelaccio says in the piece. “Partnering with these health technologists is the cornerstone of our mobile health strategy. It will continue to propel us forward as an innovator and it is the means by which mHealth will help us to meet our customers’ needs and solve some of the business challenges we’re facing.” 

In the post, Novartis highlights tracking and monitoring of patients as one of the biggest opportunities in mobile health. They mention the now-discontinued VaxTrak, for instance, as well asPodhaler Pro, an inhaler training app for cystic fibrosis patients.

Novartis currently has 13 iPhone apps in the Apple App Store, nine of which are patient or consumer-facing. The list includes two games, “Sickel Cell Iron Invaders” and “Marley’s World” which are designed to teach players about Sickle Cell disease and Multiple Sclerosis, respectively. It also includes MyNetManager and Clinical Trial Seek, two apps that launched last March.

The article also discusses a 2013 digital health challenge sponsored by Novartis, and ultimately won by home monitoring startup They add that work is continuing to build on’s platform, which is set to come out of beta later this year.

Novartis’s interest in tracking as the primary vehicle for making the most of mobile health opportunities is displayed by the deals the company has been involved with over the last few years. It sponsored some major trials with Proteus Digital Health, a company that aims to track patients with ingestible sensors embedded in pills. This year, Novartis has also partnered with TicTrac to help multiple sclerosis patients engage in self-tracking and, in a high profile deal, signed on tolicense Google’s smart contact lens to help people with diabetes track their blood glucose levels.

The article concludes, however, with the suggestion that the company is getting ready to go beyond just tracking to technologies that “could reach the market in the near future, including some that enable patients to undergo testing, diagnosis and treatment remotely.” Perhaps the company’s interest in, which reaches out to homebound patients with a virtual clinical avatar, points to the sorts of technology Novartis is pursuing.

“Through solutions like these, we intend to make a major change in the way care is delivered, and increase access to health services,” Angelaccio said.

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What is “Social Proof” and Why Should You Care?

What is “Social Proof” and Why Should You Care? | Analytics & Social media impact on Healthcare |
Social Proof is important to your business but many aren’t familiar with the term. It is also known as Social Influence and basically, it boils down to people looking for cues on what to do based on what others are doing. Although we pride ourselves on individuality, we are find comfort in numbers and groups and often look to what others are doing for assurance that we are on the track.

So how does this impact your business? If someone is uncertain if they should make a purchase, they will look to others who have made the purchase for guidance. The more people they can see have purchased and the more people that were happy with the purchase, the more likely they are to buy themselves.

Social proof comes in many different formats, with the most common being:

Storytelling – you use a story to share the experiences of the people that have already used your product or service.Video or written testimonialsReviewsCase StudiesComments on posts that indicate people are interested in what you have to say and offerSocial engagement numbers including your subscribers, followers, fans, tweets, likes, and other social sharesStatistics (while stats can be and often are manipulated, there is still trust built by sharing data – especially if it can be validated by a third party)Imagery (of people using a product or services)

Did You Know:

Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase

Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.

Pretty powerful stuff, eh? Makes you want to work on building up your reviews and other forms of social proof, doesn’t it?

Some tips for implementing “Social Proof” into your marketing.

Images make testimonials, comments and stories more believable which makes them more beneficial to you.Most people subconsciously like things that “resemble” themselves. When reading reviews, our brains place more weight on those people we deem to be the most like us. In testimonials and case studies, avoid generic “Great service!” quotes. Outline your buyer personas and capture a moment where they described a specific pain that they solved with your product/service. Try to find a customer that represents your ideal customer. If your other customers can relate to them, the testimonial will benefit you more.Use storytelling.

What would persuade you more, a 5-star review or a detailed story of how a certain product/services was able to solve someone’s problem? Both are great forms of social proof, but one is far more powerful than the other.

Stories are persuasive and more trustworthy than stats because individual examples remain in our minds, but statistics don’t.

Stories work because our brains are primed to heed their advice.

Stories are persuasive because they are able to transport us to the tale being told. (Researchers say we tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes during a story.)

Use Influencers to achieve the “Halo Effect”:

Since an “influencer” has already established a reputation, anything they involve themselves with is seen in a better light by association. Connecting yourself to people or brands with credibility, transfer some of that credibility and trust to you by association.

Less is not more:

People look at the social proof you make available to them and determine if it’s “enough” to be compelling. If you don’t have enough, you are better to go with none until you can bulk it up. With none people have nothing to judge, but with “a little” they start to wonder why there isn’t more.

Use Social Widgets:

Display your social networks and engagement numbers with widgets on your site or Blog.

Use Case Studies:

Case studies show what other people who were just like you are now experiencing as a result of making a decision to buy something that you have the option to buy too. If you see enough of these sorts of case studies you start to see the outcome as a forgone conclusion. Make this purchase and the result is yours, because it has happened to so many other people after buying.

Use Blogs and Social Media:

One of the simplest forms of social proof you will find on Blogs are comments. Comments are indicators that enough people are paying attention to what you are writing to reply. The same applies to the facebook “like” and twitter “tweet” buttons and before them, the Digg and Stumble buttons, and more recently Pinterest “Pin” button.

Gather your social proof:

Chances are you already have built up social proof. You may have received positive feedback emails from customers who have benefited from what you sold them – can they be your next case study? Do you have a lot of comments on a particular Blog post, or can you add a comment function to something to start building a social proof resource? Facebook comments? Pinterest followers? Etc etc.

If this isn’t something you have focused on, it’s time to start! You can almost instantly increase conversions when you effectively implement Social Proof.

By the way, you can use Social Proof on your site, landing pages, Blog posts, ad campaigns, social media marketing and more.


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