Sunday, December 4, 2011

Research to Help Children

The Georgia Institute of Technology and IBM are working together on a new research initiative to apply advanced systems modeling and large-scale data analytics capabilities to integrate disparate health data. Partnerships with Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Cancer Coalition, and the Georgia Department of Community Health will initially focus on children suffering from diabetes, asthma, and autism.

The project called “One Million Healthy Children” (1MHC) will focus on two specific challenges healthcare providers face. First, the current fee-for-service model in the U.S. means payment for action rather than for outcomes regardless of treatment effectiveness. 1MHC will adopt techniques from IBM’s services research portfolio to model economic, incentive, treatment, disease, and other factors that affect healthcare decisions to find practices and policies that will shift the focus of pediatric care from disease treatment to long-term wellness and disease prevention.

The second challenge is that healthcare can be affected by myriad factors such as transportation, health services, socio-economic status, food resources, educational attainment, but yet solutions aren’t always available due to the lack of information and specific data. The project will address these factors.

Another major factor concerns dealing with the necessary variety and the amount of data presented to the researchers. IBM and Georgia Tech’s “Institute for People and Technology” plus the Tennenbaum Institute will work together to integrate and analyze the variety of data needed to deal with the complex system of children’s health.

The ability to make sense of mountains of data with IBM’s analytics capabilities is the perfect pairing to Georgia Tech’s modeling expertise, according to Tennenbaum Institute Executive Director William B. Rouse Co-Chair of the National Academies Healthy America Initiative and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The 1MHC program will begin by integrating the types of anonymous healthcare data that is untraceable back to any single individual, but can be aggregated and analyzed. Data on care delivery and clinical practices will be obtained from a variety of participants in Georgia’s healthcare ecosystem.

In the first stage, health records for over 16,000 children will be analyzed, initially focusing on those suffering from diabetes and then focus on children suffering from asthma and autism. The objective is to optimize policies that support the highest quality pediatric care by aligning treatments, outcomes, and costs. Privacy and security of patient data and compliance with all current healthcare regulations will be addressed throughout all phases of the project.

Additional factors to be studied beyond financial issues and coping with massive amounts of data, will include urban planning issues, individual behavioral issues, disease transmission, clinical research, and how the media can influence the health of individuals.

For more information, contact Lisa Grovenstein at (404) 894-8835.