By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Filtering and crunching big data into smaller and more consumable pieces providing valuable insights for clients is a huge emerging industry in Austin and nationwide. That’s the big takeaway from the Austin Technology Council’s conference Emerging Austin: Healthcare Tech at the AT&T Conference Center Thursday.
The Dell Medical School at UT sees an opportunity to build a new healthcare system from the ground up, said Mini Kahlon, vice president of strategy and partnerships at Dell Medical School. The school is accepting applications for its first class of students. The inaugural class kicks off in 2016.
The new school is operating like a startup. It is hiring people who thrive in chaos and like disruption to tackle the tough problems that exist in the healthcare industry today, Kahlon said.
“Do you thrive on flux and chaos and noise or not?” Kahlon said. “If you thrive on it, you’d be a good match. If you don’t, given what we’re doing, it’s not going to work.”
Healthcare is a big business. Ten years ago, healthcare was the largest or second largest industry in five states, said Richard Nelli, president of CloudVault Health. He delivered the keynote address at the conference.
Today, healthcare is the largest or second largest industry in all but four states, Nelli said.
It’s also a business bogged down in bureaucracy and slow to change and adapt to the digital age, Nelli said. But that is starting to change, he said.
“We’re on the leading edge of a transformation in healthcare,” Nelli said.
On a slide, Nellie showed the audience a magazine advertisement from the 1950s that proclaimed more cardiologists smoke Camel cigarettes than any other brand. He said doctors today know the data tells a different story.
Data today is providing greater insights for patients, doctors and hospitals to make better choices, improve quality care and save money, Nelli said.
“The consumer has become much more of an engaged consumer in this whole equation” Nelli said.
The healthcare treatments, methods and protocols used today that provide the best outcomes at the lowest costs are really a function of data, Nelli said. Today, it’s like Moneyball, statistical analysis used for baseball, is being adopted by hospitals with data scientists and information technology experts mashing up data to get the best results, he said.
“Data is driving a lot of this transformation,” Nelli said.
One thing Nelli wanted people to takeaway from his talk is to not make healthcare data analysis too complicated.
“Healthcare is so screwed up you really don’t have to do a lot to add a lot of value,” Nelli said.
He gave the example of a group of elderly women who lived in a high-rise apartment complex that kept getting re-admitted to the hospital by ambulance. It turns out that the women ran out of their prescriptions and because they lived in a high-rise they had difficulty getting them refilled. As a result they ended up back in the hospital. The hospital hired a Jimmy Johns deliveryman to run the prescriptions to the women and they saved a huge amount of money in hospital costs, Nelli said.
“It doesn’t have to be rocket-science,” he said.
With all the data flowing through the healthcare system, data breaches have become a big problem, Nelli said. Forty percent of all data breaches in the world that occurred last year happened in the healthcare industry, he said.
Healthcare data is worth ten times as much on the black-market as what a credit card number is worth, Nelli said. That’s because the healthcare information is accurate, detailed and it’s generally updated every year, he said.
The industry needs to work more on cyber security of healthcare records, Nelli said.
Last year, $11 billion of Medicare fraud took place with stolen data, Nelli said. A high profile hospital also got hacked recently and its electronic prescription system got breached, Nelli said. The hackers sent fake e-prescriptions to drug stores and then went and picked up the drugs, he said.