Data-driven Social Innovation in Health Care
As I have pointed out in previous columns, the use of big data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence tools (such as IBM’s Watson) for social innovation, offers a unique opportunity for economic development, service improvement, and cost reduction for Canadians.
While I have also stated that social innovation is generally accepted in concept but less so in practice, …this is now changing in Saskatchewan.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital and the Sask Kids Pediatrics Team
A prime example of that change is the emerging and innovative approach now being taken in the delivery of services for pediatric patients and their families in the province.
As part of its focus on the system-wide transformation of provincial health care, Saskatchewan’s Health Authority is currently working with a number of community and private sector organizations on the development of a robust province-wide pediatric practice, based out of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.
This innovative initiative is intended to position the province as a world class centre for pediatric care, powered through the use of Cognitive Insight, Artificial Intelligence, and Predictive Analytics.
The new delivery model will see pediatric services, based out of the new Children’s Hospital, but provided to sick children and their families in or near their home communities.
According to Dr. Laurentiu Givelichian, who heads the Department of Pediatrics for the Saskatchewan Provincial Health Authority and University of Saskatchewan, leveraging big data and predictive analytics to support the work of the provincial pediatric care team (Sask Kids Pediatrics), will be ground-breaking for patient outcomes.
“We are in the process of developing a first-of-its kind, leading edge, ‘made in Saskatchewan’ initiative to provide common, quality care services to pediatric patients across this province, regardless of postal code,” he said.
Analytics and the Delivery of Provincial Pediatric Care
Unique within Canada, the approach to pediatric care delivery in Saskatchewan uses the provincial Sask Kids Pediatric Care team, which is based out of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, but delivers care to children in home communities across this province from as far north as Pelican Narrows, to Estevan in the province’s south east and Maple Creek in the south west.
“We know children do better when they are close to family and friends, so rather than bring the children to the services, we are taking the services to the children wherever possible,” Dr. Givelichian had said.
In fact, as part of the new approach to pediatric patient and family care, many sick children in Pelican Narrows are now being treated in their home community rather than being transported to Saskatoon. Pediatricians in Saskatoon assess sick children through robotic devices located in Pelican Narrows. The pediatrician is then able to advise local healthcare providers on required treatments, reducing travel for sick children, and enabling them to remain with their families.
This innovative emerging new approach is the result of collaboration between health professionals, community organizations, the province, and private industry (Jim Pattison Health Care Foundation, the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and ISM Canada).
What will make this emerging provincial initiative truly exceptional is the integration of socio-economic data, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to not only better tailor patient care and enable a provide-wide delivery of pediatric services, but also to improve research potential, increase knowledge growth in the field, and provide the ability to predict and influence impacts to the patient.
Value Produced Through Use of Analytics
The advantage of using analytics tools is that they enable organizations to take an incident or an existing process (“What Happened”) integrate this with relevant data, incorporate predictive analytics expertise to identify “Why it Happened”. Understanding “Why it Happened” and integrating predictive modeling expertise and/or artificial intelligence provides organizations with a high level of predictability around “What Will Happen”. This then provides those same organizations with the ability to effectively influence “What Will Happen”, resulting in better outcomes for all involved.
The use of data, including socio-economic data, is critical to enabling the re-engineering of our social systems. By including socio-economic data, we may be able to learn more about the impact of geography, climate, lifestyle, income levels and more on the health of children.
Because one of the key challenges in the redesign of a system or service, is identifying where to start, the Sask Kids Pediatrics team is working with a range of health professionals to determine initiatives that will best leverage predictive analytics expertise on the data currently available and to provide maximum patient benefits.
Decisions around which initiatives should be actioned first, are still in progress, however areas that health providers believe require a much more innovative provincial service delivery approach include:
- asthma in young children;
- diabetes in children and youth; and
- the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness (such as Cystic fibrosis, Cancer, Cerebral palsy, Obesity, and others) in young children.
Work on developing a more child and family-centric, provincially-focused approach to the delivery of these key pediatric services, leveraging the insight provided through the use of big data and predictive analytics will begin in the fall.
The use of predictive analytics expertise and leading artificial intelligence tools such as IBM’s Watson in the delivery of pediatric care for children and families are cutting edge in this province. Saskatchewan is fortunate to have community organizations, government bodies and leaders such as Dr. Givelichian working together to leverage data and analytics in the development of a unique, much more provincially accessible pediatric care delivery system. The integration of artificial intelligence into this practice in the medium term will only serve to enhance outcomes for pediatric patients and their families.
Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved by the same kind of thinking that created it…” I’d suggest history has shown us that to address the emerging challenges in our changing world, we need to not only think differently, but also act differently. This leading-edge work on the provincial pediatric care plan is compelling us to do both.