Utilizing Cloud Computing to Prevent Medical Error

Medical errors are the number one thing Healthcare providers and Healthcare users alike try to avoid at all costs.  Medical errors can mean injury or death to a patient and can mean a damaging lawsuit and loss of patient confidence for the Healthcare provider.  For this reason, many Healthcare organizations are leveraging cloud computing to better manage patient care.

A July 2014 Senate hearing on patient safety revealed that medical errors were the third most common cause of death for people in the United States, only behind heart disease and cancer.  These errors, which kill 400,000 Americans every year and cost the nation close to $1 trillion each year, are usually preventable mistakes.

While unintended patient deaths are the main concern, major complications are also a major issue, with close to 10,000 occurring daily.   In addition, it is estimated that misdiagnosis affects 12 million patients per year.  How are such gross medical mistakes occurring in a day and age in which we have such advanced technology and medicine?  And more importantly, how can we decrease this unacceptably large number of medical mistakes?

One way is by looking at and embracing Healthcare IT systems that provide revolutionary potential through the Healthcare data cloud.

In a survey conducted by the independent Gary and Mary West Health Institute, registered nurses often report that interoperability issue between different systems and devices are a major reason why mistakes are made in Healthcare.   In this survey, 60 percent of nurses believed that there would be fewer errors if medical equipment was completely integrated, meaning that rather than the equipment relying on manual transcription, it would draw on the same database of information.

In addition, 50 percent of registered nurses reported that they had seen an error occur due to lack of hardware coordination.  As nurses must often set up digital devices and gauge the information that these devices present, nurses must also regularly jot down numbers from one device and input the numbers into other devices if they aren’t interoperable.

Seeing as medical errors are not only a consumer safety issue, but also incredibly costly for Healthcare companies, fixing these issues with inoperability could mean significant savings.  West Health Institute found just that, arguing that implementing integrated Healthcare infrastructures could reach savings of $30 billion for Healthcare companies.

How to integrate Healthcare systems in order to achieve these savings?  The two simple elements could be used to help reduce mistakes are electronic health records (EHRs) and artificial intelligence.  Electronic health records contribute consistency to the data while artificial intelligence essentially gives doctors near the patient remote access to the knowledge and skill of top doctors all over the country (and potentially all over the world).

The data contained in EHRs could be used in artificial intelligence environments, systems that are becoming more knowledgeable everyday.  Tech companies are partnering with prominent physicians to design and create artificial intelligence programs that are capable of providing healthcare professionals with expert opinions on any treatments or recommendations in real-time.  Mansur Hasib of Information Week, along with many other industry analysts and experts believe that such a system, allowing access to a broader pool of expert knowledge, will minimize the number of medical errors that are made in hospitals and other Healthcare facilities.  The remote artificial intelligence system would be able to provide an immediate, real-time, second opinion by a leading specialist.

As the foundation of artificial intelligence is big data, AI is just one way in which healthcare cloud computing solutions can be used to improve the quality of care delivered to patients.  One of the benefits of Healthcare data in the cloud is that data can be updated within a few minutes of changes in the source systems.  This flexibility and ability to adapt quickly empowers payers, doctors, and national health systems to identify gaps in care, perform prescriptive analytics, provide interventional decision support, optimize treatment plans, etc.  The possibilities are numerous and exciting in nature.

The place of big data in Healthcare is not just building artificial intelligence systems, but instead big data can help in developing a myriad of applications that provide clinicians and administrators with a more comprehensive overview of treatments and processes.  When properly utilized, this increased visibility into the delivery of care would reduce the number of medical mistakes made and facilitate more effective Healthcare.