February 22, 2018

What will healthcare look like in a smarter society?

Matti Ristimäki

Director of Data-Driven Businesses in Health, Wellbeing and Public, Tieto

Everyone already knows that in the future, technology will make life easier, helping us work better and complete our chores quicker. While that is all true, the area that we foresee changing the most is the healthcare sector. The smarter society that we are heading towards will see people receiving personalized healthcare aimed at preventing problems rather than just treating them.

Nordic countries could be the forerunners in development of data-driven healthcare services. Finland, Sweden and Norway have been collecting health and social welfare data in digital formats for about 20 to 30 years. Almost all of this data is linked to individuals by their social security number, enabling a connection of multiple-data sources. In theory, that is an excellent base to start with. However, there are some relatively high barriers slowing down the development of data utilisation, with data being scattered in hundreds of different systems and in different formats.

Predictive analysis to deliver targeted services

By collating all of data into data lakes and having Artificial Intelligence (AI) analyze it, we will be able to make data models for different scenarios. Through the analysis of vast piles of healthcare and social welfare data, we could track patterns that reveal at-risk segments of the population or even predict the illnesses that individuals may be genetically predisposed towards. Doctors will always be needed but, if information (about patients’ allergies, case history etc.) is given to the doctors automatically, they can focus more on human interactions and quality of care, and not struggle with computers and information systems.

For instance, diabetes is a growing problem in the Nordics. Healthcare authorities could task AI systems with identifying people at risk of contracting this lifestyle disease, and predict what additional resources will be needed to prevent it from developing further. This will also help the government take steps to promote healthier lifestyles among its citizens, leading to less of a drain on resources in the years ahead.

Studies and research have shown that even a simple level of predictive analysis will help optimize costs by 10% to 15%. Considering that the Nordic social health costs range around 150 billion euros, annually, that is a huge amount of savings which can be diverted to improve the lives of citizens.

A data-driven approach to optimize resources

This is why Tieto has launched Tieto Intelligent Wellbeing, a data-driven solution, to help healthcare and welfare organizations utilize their patient data. This will help create innovative solutions and personalize services to a degree never seen before. We are already working with several major healthcare providers and organizations including HUS, one of the biggest hospitals in Europe, in helping analyze their data.

Similar advantages exist for the social welfare system. In Oulu city in Finland, studies have been done on citizens using social welfare services. It showed that 64% of healthcare and welfare costs were generated by individuals who are also welfare customers, which means there are clear linkages between both groups. By delivering targeted services to one, it is quite possible to reduce the burden on the other. One way would be for governments to provide at-risk sections of the population with training, resources and additional support to improve their quality of life, which in turn will reduce their need to access healthcare services as frequently.

Taking all of this into account, we are confident that the healthcare and social welfare system of tomorrow will deliver a level of care and attention so far unmatched in human history.

Watch Matti Ristimaki's video: "What will healthcare look like in a smarter society?", here.

What does a smarter society mean?

Tieto’s goal is to utilize our expertise in digitalization to continue shaping a smarter society, one which anticipates the needs of the people in every phase of their lives. For more insights and examples on how we are doing this, visit Tieto.com/smartersociety.

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