The Georgia Institute of Technology and IBM have announced a new research initiative that will apply advanced systems modeling and large-scale data analytics capabilities to integrate traditionally disparate data that affects health. The project, which includes partnerships with Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Cancer Coalition and the Georgia Department of Community Health, will initially focus on children suffering from diabetes, asthma and autism.
Called One Million Healthy Children (1MHC), the project focuses on two specific challenges healthcare providers face. First, the current fee-for-service model in the United States means payment for action rather than for outcome, regardless of treatment effectiveness. The other challenge is that health is affected by myriad factors – not just those that are apparent in lab tests. Factors like transportation, health services, socio-economic status, food resources, educational attainment and many others all impact a child’s health, but doctors often do not have access to this information.
1MHC will adopt techniques from IBM’s services research portfolio to model economic, incentive, treatment, disease and other factors that affect healthcare decisions to find practices and policies that will shift the focus of pediatric care from disease treatment to long-term wellness and disease prevention. Additionally, IBM and Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology and Tennenbaum Institute, will work together to integrate a variety of data sources to advance model development and analysis of the complex system of children’s health. The goal of this collaboration is to develop solutions for improved pediatric care.
“We are working to transform health care delivery systems by creating proactive and easily accessible health and wellness technologies,” said Executive Vice President for Research Stephen E. Cross. “This project underscores the power partnerships can have in using computing and engineering principles to positively impact children’s health.”
The ability to make sense of mountains of data with IBM’s analytics capabilities is the perfect pairing to Georgia Tech’s modeling expertise, according toTennenbaum Institute Executive Director William B. Rouse, co-chair of the National Academies Healthy America Initiative and member of the National Academy of Engineering.
“By adding deep analytics to the formula, we hope to systematically improve healthcare delivery, which will allow us to understand the strategic, operational and economic trade-offs of different business models in the healthcare system,” said Rouse.
The 1MHC program will begin by integrating many types of anonymized healthcare data, which is untraceable back to any single individual, but can be aggregated and analyzed. Data on care delivery and clinical practices will be obtained from a variety of participants in Georgia’s healthcare eco-system.
In the first stages, health records for over 16,000 children will be analyzed, initially focusing on those suffering from diabetes, then asthma and autism, aiming to optimize policies that support the highest quality pediatric care by aligning treatments, outcomes, and costs. Privacy and security of patient data and compliance with all current healthcare regulations will be addressed throughout all phases of the project.
The outcome of this collaborative research effort will provide model-based advice and guidance to healthcare providers. The goal is improved alignment of time, money and expertise to achieve the best quality and most cost-effective healthcare possible.
The insights from this project will help healthcare providers and policymakers in the state of Georgia understand the impact of existing healthcare practices and of proposed changes. The model-based advice and guidance will further enable understanding of geographic inequities in healthcare use, quality, expenditure and outcomes, along with highlighting inequities across the pediatric system.