The application of data science, whether built into a device or leveraged in a managed care offering, may be today’s biggest opportunity for technology to advance chronic disease management. Here, Laura Mauri, M.D., M.Sc., vice president of Global Clinical Research and Analytics, discusses some of the ways Medtronic is applying the power of data science to transform healthcare.
Q: How can data be used to help health systems improve clinical and economic outcomes?
A: One of the challenges that health systems have is getting the right therapy to the right patient at the right time. The way we achieve that is by getting more information and linking patients to their outcomes in the process of their care. As we know, there are evidence-based therapies proven in randomized trials that don't always make their way to patients. Medtronic can help health systems by using data to identify which patients are receiving the therapies they should and which patients still have an opportunity to receive those therapies.
Q: How can data be used to help physicians deliver insights and predictive analytics to reduce administrative burden and variability in care?
A: Physician burnout is a real problem. It’s not that physicians are tired of practicing medicine, it's that there are so many administrative tasks they face in their practices. There has been an explosion of data and not all of it is valuable. One way Medtronic can help physicians is by processing data through our algorithms to make it more user-friendly. I think one example is how our Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure business is developing algorithms to be able to distinguish life-threatening arrhythmias from other abnormalities on tracings.
Q: How can data be used to help advance clinical research and empower patients?
A: Most people have a phone, a tablet, or a computer and are interested in sharing information about their health if it can provide a benefit to others who may suffer similar problems. We see this in clinical trials, where patients are enthusiastic about joining studies even before they've been approached by a physician. That can be very important to jump start recruitment for our new medical technologies. We also see this as a growing area for our patients who have sensors on their devices and want to understand that data. An example is diabetes, where we can now capture information about a patient’s activity level, their food intake, and other behaviors that might modify how they treat their own disease.
Q: How can data be used to drive insights at a population level for both providers and peers?
A: Our population health services focus on how we provide the best care to be able to reduce recurrent hospitalizations for groups of high-risk patients. We do that by gathering data in the home, gathering data through our care services, and identifying how we can intervene to provide care by linking that patient with their care provider. By capitalizing on all these sources of data, we can improve overall population outcomes.
Q: How can Medtronic contribute to the evolving field of data science?
A: Medtronic is in a unique situation because we have excellent technology that is linked to our patients and providers with whom we have a strong relationship. And our Mission is to improve people's health — that’s special. Other technology companies may have the tools to be able to understand data but may not understand the problems faced by patients and providers. Medtronic also has the scale and breadth of different disease areas in which we operate to be able to break down some of the barriers. For example, our patients don't think of themselves as a diabetes patient or as a heart failure patient or as an atrial fibrillation patient. They are unique individuals who may have several or all these problems. One of the challenges and opportunities that we have is to be able to take advantage of that continuum of information to provide the best care for individuals rather than for a disease.
Q: What does the future hold for Medtronic in the field of data science?
A: Our future depends on us partnering with multiple providers of information, including individuals, hospital systems, and payers. We can't do this all alone. It's going to be very important that we work together across the medical and health technology landscapes. There are so many ways that we interact with patients. We deliver and understand our technology very well. We also have core expertise in the data sciences area that can be leveraged to be able to bring value to both patients and providers. Finally, we value the trusted relationship that physicians have with patients and want to learn from our partners how we can better meet their needs.
An accomplished interventional cardiologist and clinical researcher, Laura Mauri, M.D., M.Sc., joined Medtronic in 2018 as vice president of Global Clinical Research and Analytics. Dr. Mauri directs the company’s global clinical research strategy, including novel analytical and science-based data solutions.