As doctor and patient, Christensen offers unique view of health care

What's the cure for high-cost health care and medical diagnoses that miss the mark? Technology and analytics, says  Clayton M. Christensen, author and professor at Harvard Business School.

Christensen spoke Thursday during the 9th Annual SAS Health Care & Life Sciences Executive Conference.

As both a medical doctor and a stroke survivor (living with lymphoma and Type 1 diabetes), Christensen shared insights that were as poignant as they were unique.

His experiences as both doctor and patient shape his belief that the US health-care system must embrace technology and health analytics in particular in order to make health care affordable and medical diagnoses more precise and accurate.

“The business models themselves need to change so we can deliver outcomes at a much lower cost with higher probabilities,” Christensen said.

As health analytics and related technologies become more ubiquitous and standard among providers -- patients even -- smaller clinics will be able to treat many of the conditions and ailments that currently require hospitalization. And the services rendered by today's clinic will move into the home.

At the same time, outcomes will improve.

A recent study Christensen cited concluded that 70 percent of today’s hospital patients would have been in the intensive care unit 30 years ago, and 70 percent of today’s intensive care patients would have been dead 30 years ago.

“Our hospital has been extraordinarily capable of ever more miraculous things,” he said.

Data allows providers to take the next step toward more precise, personalized care. Because symptoms overlap for so many health problems, it is harder for physicians to accurately diagnose a condition or provide the most ideal treatment.

Christensen said that using “magnificent analytics” to focus on common problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity or depression, will let physicians begin to identify hypotheses for these types of diseases.

“You can be more accurate more often, and more importantly you can give guidance to scientists looking for (disease) markers because you have a more pure population to work with,” he said. “I can’t imagine that anybody in the world has the intellectual horsepower to address patients in this way. SAS is in a great position to do good things here.”

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    Welcome to the SAS Health and Life Sciences blog. We explore how the health care ecosystem – providers, payers, pharmaceutical firms, regulators and consumers – can collaboratively use information and analytics to transform health quality, cost and outcomes.
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