The rapid economic development that the GCC region has undergone has led to a significant increase in non-communicable and chronic ‘lifestyle’ diseases. Most of which are largely preventable.
The UAE’s 2020 vision to provide world-class healthcare to locals and expatriates, has inspired immediate investment in developing nationwide systems to support and integrate digital health services. Part of this planning and development is the creation of a large data lakes whereby big data is stored alongside real-time information. This data lake has the power to improve health through better decision making and remote monitoring of critical and chronic diseases.
Almost 90% of deaths in the UAE are caused by chronic lifestyle-induced diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, hypertension and cancer. This is a result of a predominantly urban lifestyle characterized by sedentary habits, an aversion to exercise and poor food choices. With the prevalence of chronic diseases on the rise, new ways of managing public health are needed.
Although wearble devices are not new, there are exciting ways that these can be incorporated into medical and insurance organizations. Creating outcomes-based personalised insurance programs makes sense. It allows insurers to offer cheaper products for people who exercise and eat healthily, and more expensive ones to those who don’t. They can then also use this information to build better relationships with their customers, and to market to them (and similar customers) more successfully.
Additionally EPR (electronic patient records), telemedicine devices and genomics present further opportunies for managing these illnesses and diseases more efficiently. Doctors will be able to track, analyze and predict patients’ health through monitoring their vitals remotely. They will then be able to customize treatment plans and provide more personalized care, thus improving overall outcomes.
Unlike Europe (and some of the other more established “old world” countries), the GCC is ready and able to embrace technology and big data as key components of the modern healthcare system. Finances, infrastrucure and readiness are all in place. But in order to make this change successful, healthcare organisations must be willing to act as a unified data-driven ecosystem (not as single silos of information). Currently up to 90% of all medical data is unstructured with patient records being in a variety of different forms, locations and applications. The ability to access, share and optimise patient data is critical to the successful implementation of a “smart” healthcare system in the UAE.
Additionally as healthcare organizations accelerate their use of technology to improve patient care, they face critical challenges in keeping this data accessible, protected and secure. According to Dave Dimond of EMC, “if you have to do one thing, take a step back, look at the technologies of big data and consider how you are going to take on new data securely with data lakes.”
With all-flash storage as the foundation of the infrastructure, healthcare organizations can leverage efficiency, compliance, outcomes, engagement and availability in all facets of healthcare delivery. Furthermore, healthcare providers can dramatically improve their quality of care and enhance the patient’s experience by providing information on demand.
Big data for public health is vital in establishing a more efficient medical landscape in the GCC. And the commitment to digital health lies in the proper structuring of big data. With many patients already voluntarily wearing health-monitoring devices, the next step would be for healthcare providers to integrate this data with their own, and to build strong networks with new services. This type of healthcare system will simultaneously engage patients of the future and give doctors access to more information, thus stimulating greater progress in the treatment of disease and the development of medicines.
Discover more about EMC’s data lake and all-flash solutions here.