Guest post from Anuj Marfatia, Senior Market Manager, IBM Predictive Analytics Solutions
Usually when traveling for work or vacation and right after takeoff, I undoubtedly begin to panic, much like the mother in Home Alone. I constantly worry that I left the garage door open, the iron on, my kids behind, food out for the dog, or most importantly, if I put my vintage 1963 Issue #4 Avengers comic book back in its protective cover (don’t judge).
Beyond this unnecessary distress, protecting my arm rest from the chatty passenger beside me, and browsing through SkyMall, I sometimes read the passenger safety document. Have you ever looked through one of these? It’s unintentional comedy.
In the past few years, almost all airlines have included an “exercises” section in the pamphlet.
As an economy class passenger, I have to laugh at such pictorials – as most of these exercises (see image) are almost impossible given that my knees are already touching the seat in front of me. Now, if only I were a contortionist…
In all seriousness, do you know why these exercises are important?
Studies have shown that many emergencies and future health issues are correlated to inactivity while flying, and one in every 20,000 passengers has an in-flight emergency (source). One serious, yet preventable, issue is venous thromboembolism (VTE) that occurs when a blood clot in a leg vein (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) travels through the body to the lung.
Based on a BBC News report, some 75 percent of air-travel cases of VTE have been linked to lack of movement while in the air. I can sleep well knowing that economy passengers, like myself, are no more likely to develop clots than the more fortunate passengers in business or first class.
While I try to do some sit-ups, lunges, and pull-ups on the plane (kidding of course), it would be great if I knew how likely I was to get VTE or DVT or how much I would have to exercise to minimize my risk of attaining VTE or DVT.
Wouldn't it be cool while purchasing a ticket or at check-in, you would be informed of the health risks on a certain flight? That would be a red eye-opener.
While such a thought may seem like something from a science fiction movie or occur 100 years from now… think again. Predictive disease management actually exists today!
There is a lot of information about a patient that can be used (HIPPA-compliant, of course) to determine the likelihood of disease occurrence or treatment effectiveness.
Based on the study above and numerous other studies, drugs that doctors prescribe are still relatively ineffective.
Doctors do use their best knowledge and experiences, in most cases, but many times they are not utilizing ALL of the information that is available to them when making a decision about the patient. (This is also why some of the IBM Watson applications in healthcare are so interesting to watch.)
This is where predictive analytics comes into play. Predictive analytics software pulls in information from all the disparate data sources, such as from health information systems, Excel, and even from Facebook and Twitter (for those cases you told your friends that last night’s Ethiopian food left you “indeposed”).
The software enables healthcare organizations to transition to a new model and find more effective ways to treat patients and develop new treatment protocols. For example, a predictive outcome could be that Jane Doe has a 95 percent probability of positively reacting to a certain treatment, essentially increasing the quality of care and containing costs.
This is why I’m happy to hear researchers at Hospital Santa Barbara, a research and treatment center in Spain, analyzed patient records and other research data to establish a new, reliable diagnostic model for DVT enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment in high-risk patients. (Learn more how Santa Barbara Hospital used IBM SPSS predictive analytics.)
While Spain may have their own economic issues, I’d like to thank them for helping to begin the journey of a DVT-free flight – so I can fly the friendly skies without worrying about my health.
For fun, see more plane exercises here.
For more information:
· Read the whitepaper: “Analytics in Healthcare”
· Watch the video: Predictive Treatment Analysis
· Learn how Centerstone Research uses predictive analytics to improve clinical decisions