Worldwide, diabetes is a leading health concern which affects 422 million people and results in 1.5 million deaths every year, says World Health Organization (WHO). In India, it is growing at a fast rate, with the country home to 65.1 million people with the disease, particularly as the youths switch to fast food. Factors such as physically inactive lifestyle, faulty nutrition, and genetic predisposition are fueling it. With 9% of adult population suffering from diabetes, measures are needed. Adherence to medication, diet and exercise programs and monitoring of glycemic goals are needed for success intervention. Studies like WHO and others have shown less than 50% of affected people achieve glycemic goals, and adherence rates are low.
Big Data and Analytics can help in monitoring diabetes
Modern technologies like Analytics and Big Data can be leveraged to manage the disease. Big Data can help doctors monitor patients in real time from remote locations and identify issues. Besides the blood sugar level, other vital parameters like blood pressure and heart rate are tracked through sensors located on the patient’s body. Data is transmitted through smart medical devices to a doctor. The pharmacy and doctor are alerted when scheduled medication is missed. The profile and history of patients can be stored besides continuous monitoring of other factors such as affect of adherence to medication and food and exercise. This data is stored, analyzed, and transmitted to physicians, who respond and monitor appropriately. Such technology can improve a patient’s quality of life.
“Big Data revolution is on and it can be leveraged for efficient and optimal monitoring of diabetes. In a situation where millions of patients receive suboptimal care, the tedious task can be taken care of. Particularly, in Third-World Countries such as India, Big Data tools can be effective and can bring down expensive procedures of management and monitoring. All we need to do is to leverage Big Data Analytics,” said Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera, a global leader in cloud technology that recently developed a Big Data tool.
Big Data can predict adherence to medication and build models to predict effectiveness of the medications and the risk of complications. Such technology is significant for Third-World countries as it can lower healthcare costs. Global firm McKinsey projects the use of Big Data in healthcare sector to reduce the healthcare expenses by $300–$500 billion. In a data-driven health approach, machine learning can also aid development of predictive models and risk factors for diabetes. Claims data, laboratory results, and pharmacy records could find out risk factors. Such new models can predict diabetes onset by 50%.
Concluding remarks on efficacy of Big Data tools
According to a Lancet report, the number of diabetes patients has increased fourfold. The numbers have gone from 108 million (in 1980) to 422 million (in 2014), with half of them in India, China, Brazil, USA, and Indonesia. India, USA, and China have the highest numbers of diabetics. Prevalence rate may double by 2030, and maximum increase may come from India. Financial burden could be huge for India. In such scenario, benefits of Big Data revolution cannot be emphasized sufficiently. Before the disorder goes into epidemic proportions, cutting-edge technology should be utilized to tame the disease in multidimensional ways.