Heart mon­i­tors


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Driussi adds that shop­pers are opt­ing in to share their data with Wool­worths in re­turn for personalised of­fers. The re­sult is pin­point-ac­cu­rate, data-driven mar­ket­ing that, says Driussi, busi­nesses ig­nore at their peril. (If you de­tect a de­crease in ran­dom junk mail and an uptick in of­fers that ap­peal to you, you’re see­ing this at work.) “I re­ally no­tice when the mar­ket­ing is bad,” he says. “If I get emails from a brand try­ing to sell me some­thing that has noth­ing to do with what I want, I switch off.”

Personalised ser­vice, he points out, dates back to when the owner of the cor­ner store knew your name and your favourite brands – “but that went out the win­dow” with shop­ping cen­tres. Now com­pa­nies are analysing enor­mous tranches of data to “turn at­ten­tion back to cus­tomers at scale”. In 2005, Quan­tium had two servers and about 1.2 ter­abytes (TB) of stor­age for all its data pro­cess­ing. To­day you can buy a 2TB por­ta­ble hard drive for un­der $100 and Quan­tium has about 1600TB of stor­age from a spe­cially de­signed clus­ter of com­put­ers and soft­ware. “The com­pu­ta­tion speed we have ac­cess to to­day is 19,000 times faster than 10 years ago.”

The ad­vance­ment is “not about try­ing to re­place gut feel”, says Driussi, ac­knowl­edg­ing that many feel threat­ened by the march of al­go­rithms. “We’re try­ing to give you more in­for­ma­tion to make your job eas­ier and to make bet­ter de­ci­sions, be­cause there are a hell of a lot of de­ci­sions that still need to be made by hu­mans.”

The learn­ings from analysing be­hav­iours and trends for brands are also in­form­ing Quan­tium’s work with gov­ern­ments and their data-an­a­lyt­ics cen­tres, look­ing at ar­eas such as in­fra­struc­ture plan­ning, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care sys­tems. “The chal­lenge for gov­ern­ments is that they don’t have a sin­gle view of cit­i­zens be­cause their data sets are dis­parate and not con­nected,” says Driussi. They need to be brought to­gether to build a fuller pic­ture for greater in­sights. On one pro­ject, for ex­am­ple, Quan­tium’s data sci­en­tists are meld­ing gov­ern­ment data and other de­mo­graphic data sets, hunt­ing for ways to im­prove fund­ing mod­els for schools. Ev­ery 10 min­utes, some­one in Aus­tralia has a heart at­tack. Sur­viv­ing it is one thing but com­plet­ing a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram af­ter­wards is their best shot at avoid­ing another one.

In 2015, The Heart Foun­da­tion and Ernst & Young con­ducted a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis that es­ti­mated if car­diac-re­hab com­ple­tion in­creased from 30 to 50 per cent, the Aus­tralian health sys­tem would reap a net sav­ing of $191.8 mil­lion over 10 years.

But get­ting pa­tients to com­mit to these pro­grams is the is­sue. CSIRO’s Bris­bane-based Aus­tralian E-Health Re­search Cen­tre was the cra­dle for Cardi­hab, a smart­phone app that re­motely mon­i­tors pa­tients as they re­cover and adopt more heart-healthy habits.

The pro­ject won a berth in CSIRO’s com­pet­i­tive ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram, ON, and in Septem­ber, Cardi­hab be­came a stand­alone startup, part of CSIRO’s strat­egy to com­mer­cialise its re­search. “Cardi­hab ex­em­pli­fies the com­bi­na­tion of pub­lic good and eco­nomic out­comes that makes ON so unique,” said CSIRO chief ex­ec­u­tive Larry Mar­shall.

The Cardi­hab app leads pa­tients through their re­hab pro­gram re­motely, sup­ported by clin­i­cians over the phone. Pa­tients man­u­ally en­ter data such as food, al­co­hol and wa­ter con­sump­tion. “We find this keeps their re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion front of mind and helps them change their be­hav­iour,” says Cardi­hab co-founder and chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Si­mon McBride. If pa­tients have Blue­tooth-en­abled de­vices to mea­sure vi­tals such as blood pres­sure and weight, the app can col­lect that data. Step counts are taken off the smart­phone and Cardi­hab is work­ing to in­te­grate with wear­ables such as Fit­bit. “We want to make the ac­qui­si­tion of data as sim­ple as pos­si­ble for pa­tients,” says McBride.

The con­cept of de­liv­er­ing a re­hab pro­gram re­motely was put through a world-first ran­domised con­trolled trial, which was re­ported in spe­cial­ist Bri­tish jour­nal Heart in 2014. “The trial demon­strated that we could im­prove up­take of car­diac re­hab by 29 per cent and com­ple­tion of the pro­gram by 78 per cent,” says McBride. The num­ber of pa­tient vis­its to a clinic or hospi­tal was re­duced by 90 per cent and clin­i­cal out­comes were equiv­a­lent. It worked.

Con­ven­tional car­diac-re­hab pro­grams gen­er­ally run for six to 12 weeks, mon­i­tor­ing phys­i­cal re­cov­ery and help­ing pa­tients make life­style changes. But work, life and even hospi­tal car park fees can stop pa­tients com­plet­ing (or even start­ing) their pre­scribed pro­gram. Weekly face-to-face ap­point­ments in­volve weight and blood pres­sure checks, ex­er­cise and ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions.

The Cardi­hab app col­lects data around all of those risk fac­tors and in­cludes ed­u­ca­tional videos and links, goal-set­ting and even re­lax­ation au­dio. And, un­like a sin­gle weekly ses­sion, it’s with the pa­tient 24/7, in their phone.

“Smart­phones and wear­able de­vices are ex­pand­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties for clin­i­cal care,” says McBride, who sees the po­ten­tial for GPs to use a ver­sion of the app as a pre­ven­ta­tive tool for pa­tients with red flags for car­diac risk. “The tech­nol­ogy pro­vides clin­i­cal-grade data and that’s go­ing to change the way care is de­liv­ered.”

The key to Cardi­hab’s suc­cess is “the com­bi­na­tion of that high-qual­ity data and hav­ing a hu­man in the loop who knows how to in­ter­pret it and mo­ti­vate the pa­tient”, says McBride. “We have a spe­cific time built into the pro­to­col for the clin­i­cian and the pa­tient to speak on the phone and re­flect on the data that’s been en­tered over the past week. We need a hu­man there to say, ‘You’ve done well on this, not so well here, or you haven’t put in any data here so we need to dis­cuss how en­gaged you are.’ So the app is fa­cil­i­tat­ing con­ver­sa­tions that wouldn’t other­wise hap­pen at all.”

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