According to the CDC, 90% of the $4.1 trillion spent on healthcare costs each year goes toward managing chronic conditions, with most of that expense used for the treatment of just five conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease(1). Luckily, advancements in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have provided us with a tool that shows great promise to significantly reduce these burdens.
Predictive analytics have already proven to be a valuable asset in the early detection and risk stratification of chronic disease. For those already suffering from these diseases, predictive analytics have the potential to provide personalized treatment plans and interventions in order to bring about more positive outcomes.
In this article, we’ll look at what predictive analytics is, its current uses in chronic disease management, and how connected medical devices can add valuable data to further improve the usability and widen the applications of this new tool.
What Is Predictive Analytics?
Predictive analytics is the practice of extracting information from historical data sets to identify patterns, relationships, and trends that can be used to predict future outcomes or behaviors. It combines statistical analysis, data mining techniques, machine learning algorithms, and other analytical methods to make predictions about future events or behaviors.
This practice differs from Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which is also on the rise in healthcare systems across the country. Where RPA operates on a set of predefined rules and instructions to complete data entry, manipulation, and extraction tasks, predictive analytics is focused on extracting insights from data in order to predict future outcomes. These processes require human-like intelligence and have only recently become widespread due to advancements in AI technology.
In healthcare, specifically, predictive analytics is used to predict the likelihood of health conditions, complications, and outcomes based on the analysis of historical health data. This data may encompass health information from the greater population, the patient’s health history and family history, genetic information, socio-demographic factors, and more.
Leveraging Predictive Analytics in Chronic Disease Management
The widespread analysis of health data was not possible until the 1960s when the first Electronic Health Record (EHR) came into use. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that AI was first utilized to analyze this data and provide not just diagnosis of current conditions, but also future predictions about a patient’s health.
The mass digitization of the health record and recent advancements in AI have both led to dramatic leaps in the field of healthcare analytics. Today, this process is vital for the early detection of disease, predicting disease progression, and providing personalized treatment and intervention plans for patients.
Predictive analytics can play a crucial role in the early detection of chronic diseases by leveraging historical patient data, risk factors, and other relevant variables to identify individuals who are at a higher risk of developing a particular condition.
Predictive models developed using medical records, lab results, genetic information, lifestyle factors, and socio-demographic variables can be used to assess an individual’s risk of developing various chronic diseases. Many models are capable of identifying and evaluating predictive biomarkers that can signal the early stages of disease and flag those at risk long before lab work would show a problem.
A 2016 study showed that predictive analytics based on machine learning was able to identify undiagnosed Peripheral Arterial Disease with greater accuracy than the traditional gold standard risk assessment. The predictive model was also better able to predict future risk of major adverse cardiac events more accurately than traditional methods, at a rate of 70% compared to just 56%(2).
Adding to the usefulness of predictive analytics is the fact that it can integrate and analyze data from multiple sources, such as EHRs, medical imaging, wearable devices, genetic data, and patient-reported outcomes. By combining these diverse data types, predictive models can uncover hidden patterns, relationships, and risk factors that contribute to the early detection of chronic diseases.
A 2015 study of type 2 diabetes showed that applying a population-level risk prediction model on readily available administrative data improved the positive predictive value by more than 50% compared to classical diabetes risk prediction algorithms. The predictive model was also able to identify novel risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including chronic liver disease, high alanine aminotransferase, esophageal reflux, and a history of acute bronchitis(3).
Predicting Disease Progression
By analyzing historical patient data, clinical variables, biomarkers, treatment information, and other relevant data, predictive analytics can be utilized to predict disease progression and guide treatment decisions for better outcomes.
Predictive models can analyze longitudinal patient data over time, capturing patterns and trends in that data. These can be used to make predictions about how a disease is likely to progress in an individual patient. By combining patient data, clinical variables, disease-specific indicators, and treatment information, these models can also develop prognostic models that can estimate survival rates, disease-free intervals, or milestones in the disease progression.
A 2016 study of Parkinson’s disease progression utilized predictive analytics to analyze a unique archive of complex imaging, clinical data, genetics, and demographic data. The model was able to predict Parkinson’s disease in at-risk patients with an accuracy of over 96%. Researchers were quick to point out the potential uses for this type of processing in diagnosis and disease progression predictions in other neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease(4).
Another advantage of predictive analytics is that it can continuously update risk assessments as new data becomes available. By incorporating real-time patient data, including ongoing clinical measurements, lab results, and treatment updates, predictive models can dynamically adjust and refine predictions about disease progression. This allows healthcare providers to adapt treatment plans and interventions based on the most up-to-date information.
These advantages are illustrated in a 2016 study of children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Continuous high-resolution recordings and automated intelligent analysis of physiological real-time data were used to detect signs of clinical deterioration too subtle for clinician observation. The algorithm was found to be accurate in detecting impending events 91% of the time and could easily be used as an early warning system for critical intervention(5).
Predictive analytics can be instrumental in tailoring personalized treatment strategies for individuals with chronic conditions.
Predictive models can analyze historical data of patients with similar characteristics and treatment histories to predict how an individual patient is likely to respond to different treatment options to find the one most likely to produce a positive outcome. These same models can be used to help identify individuals who may be at a higher risk of experiencing adverse events or side effects from specific treatments.
A 2020 study into non-small cell lung cancer utilized an AI algorithm to analyze changes in patterns from CT scans unobservable to clinicians. These changes were ultimately found to be associated with how well a patient would respond to immunotherapy, providing direction to doctors for which treatment to pursue for the best outcome(6).
Predictive analytics can also be valuable in developing personalized interventions for individuals undergoing treatment for a chronic condition.
These processes can analyze patient data, including lifestyle factors, socioeconomic variables, and historical treatment outcomes, to identify patterns and correlations between behaviors and treatment effectiveness. This information can guide personalized interventions aimed at modifying lifestyle habits, promoting healthier behaviors, and improving treatment outcomes. Since many of the risk factors associated with the top five most common and costly chronic diseases are lifestyle related, these kinds of interventions are key to promoting positive outcomes.
Predictive analytics can also help optimize medication management by considering genetics, comorbidities, biomarkers, and treatment response predictions. Predictive models can assist in determining the appropriate dosage, medication combinations, and treatment duration for individual patients, taking into account factors that may influence drug metabolism and response.
Data collected from wearable devices, sensors, or patient-reported outcomes can also be used in predictive analytics to enable proactive interventions. By analyzing real-time or near-real-time data, predictive models can identify early signs of deterioration or non-adherence to treatment regimens. This enables healthcare providers to intervene proactively with personalized interventions or adjustments to the treatment plan.
Connected Devices and Predictive Analytics
Connected devices have the potential to significantly enhance and broaden the applications of predictive analytics in chronic disease management. Whether a smartwatch or medical sensor, these devices generate a wealth of real-time patient data that can be leveraged for intelligent data analysis.
Today’s connected devices are able to monitor everything from vital signs and activity levels to emotional well-being and medication adherence. This generates a rich stream of real-time data that can be fed into predictive analytics models, allowing for dynamic and up-to-date insights into a patient’s condition, treatment response, and disease progression. These devices can allow any changes in a patient’s health status to be detected early, even before noticeable symptoms occur, giving care teams the ability to intervene promptly with personalized treatments.
Connected devices also enable remote patient monitoring, reducing the need for frequent clinic visits. Healthcare providers can remotely monitor patients’ health status, intervene when necessary, and provide personalized guidance and support without the patient needing to be physically present. These devices also empower patients to actively participate in their own care. The data from the devices can be integrated into patient-facing applications where predictive analytics can provide personalized insights, nudges, and recommendations to support patients in making informed decisions about their lifestyle, treatment adherence, and overall disease management.
Connected devices also enable the collection of large-scale, real-world data from populations of patients with and without chronic diseases. Predictive analytics can analyze this aggregated data to identify trends, risk factors, and treatment patterns at a population level. These insights can be used to bolster the predictive power and accuracy of algorithms to further increase the usefulness of predictive analytics in chronic disease treatment and prevention.
Current and Future Challenges
Connecting the vast computing and analysis power of predictive analytics to the wealth of data collected from wearable connected devices represents the future of preventative and proactive healthcare. But this future will not come without its challenges.
Just as with utilizing connected devices to treat individual conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and mental health issues, integrating connected devices into predictive analytics algorithms will require special attention to data privacy and protection. The information gathered by connected devices is highly sensitive and personal, making the need for compliance with regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA, necessary to maintain patient trust and mitigate risks associated with data breaches.
Another challenge is data integration and interoperability. Connected devices often generate data in different formats and protocols, making data integration difficult. Harmonizing data from various devices, electronic health records, and other sources requires standardization and interoperability frameworks. A lack of standardized data formats and interoperability can hinder the seamless integration and utilization of data for predictive analytics.
The data collected by connected devices can also vary in quality and reliability. Issues such as sensor inaccuracies, signal interference, and data transmission errors can affect the accuracy and completeness of the data. Inconsistent data quality and variability pose challenges for predictive analytics models that rely on reliable and standardized data inputs.
Opportunities in Predictive Analytics and Connected Devices
Striking a balance between data privacy, interoperability, and quality is essential to unlocking the full potential of connected devices to feed predictive analytics models and improve healthcare outcomes for chronic disease treatment and prevention.
If you have questions about building or developing SaMD or connected devices for the chronic disease market, Sequenex is here to help. Contact us today to find out what we can do to help your medical device company harness the power of data integration and predictive analytics to help those living with cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.