Semantic computing can reinvigorate the healthcare ecosystems

The healthcare ecosystem is a complex and information-challenged industry. There are providers, payors, research organisations/biotech companies, pharmaceuticals, government agencies, internet based organisations, and finally consumers. They all suffer from a lack of information although there is a huge amount of data stored in many formats in many different locations. This is sometimes referred to as a data lake.

There is a more efficient way to manage and access this data and its inter-relationships. Semantic computing has evolved to help all participants gain better insight from this “data lake” of disconnected information in healthcare. Semantic computing, working with other artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and sophisticated query tools can enhance access to, and comprehension of the data.

The whole Healthcare ecosystem can benefit from semantic computing tools across a number of fronts

Providers – Point of Care Management.

Semantic computing with its contextual approach to analysis improves outcomes, and enables a focus on more evidence-based medicine. Doctors do not know everything. These tools, accessing advanced data stores and medical ontologies, will act as a skilled advisor for diagnoses, engage in complex genetic interactions, provide possible drug interactions/pathways and provide potential treatment options for a more effective holistic treatment regime.

The Internet of Things (IoT) provides POC/ wearable devices that provide digital signals that can be captures and understood by data inter-operability platforms. This will provide significant improvements in diagnosis and treatment plans.


In addition the effective structuring and recording of unstructured clinical notes, when utilised by the contextual engagement utilities, will also improve treatment outcomes, and potentially create optimal clinical workflows.

Over time, these semantic computing based tools will be utilised by other frontline health workers – nurses and doctors’ assistants – to confidently recommend courses of treatment or escalate the case for additional specialist consultations. In the not too distant future, healthcare workers in remote hospitals or developing nations will consult these semantic computing based healthcare applications, thus supporting primary care with the latest information when treating their patients.

Healthcare Payers Effectiveness.

Payers need to improve membership engagement and minimise excessive payouts, so semantic computing tools, with their detailed analysis of all sources of information from patients, demographics and hospital processes, improves the payers’ ability to find unusual patterns and in doing so reduce over-servicing and claims fraud. The US healthcare system alone loses over $350 billion dollars annually to waste, fraud, and errors, with errors and waste accounting for over ninety percent and only ten percent coming from abuse and fraud.

Healthcare payers are already being swamped by the “data lake”. As medical care continues to become even more complex and expensive, there is a need to effectively utilise advanced data analytics. Semantic computing tools combined with traditional fraud detection databases can detect information missed by traditional approaches and will to be able highlight potentially unneeded and fraudulent treatments.

Consumers’ Focus on Wellness

The recent shifting of healthcare focus from curative treatment to preventative & wellness will reduce treatment costs. Semantic computing assists this approach significantly by providing patients with full access to their medical history, and current dietary and behavioural data. In the future, this information can all be available on a wearable device for easy access to the patient and care provider.

By combining the patient history, domain expertise about health and nutrition and understanding a member’s benefits and health status, a healthcare Payer can create applications that understands the patient/client ’s behaviour and can provide tailored information on exercise, food, and other activities to maximise healthy lifestyle outcomes

A number of wellness programs are already engaging with customers, and the program providers are not restricted to Healthcare insurance payers. Many government departments (especially those in specialist areas that manage returned services, veterans affairs and indigenous populations) already have traditional support services that can be enhanced by semantic services tools.

Research Projects

Semantic computing tools are able to undertake contextual analysis using specialist data dictionaries, linked to the research, and called ontologies. These tools are able to analyse and correlate diverse data sources. They can mine vast data stores of historical medical treatment and outcome data to discover new combinations of drugs and treatment regimes to fight specific diseases, customised to exact needs of a group of patients. This new ability will significantly increase insights into clinical data, provide more positive research outcomes and potentially reduce project costs.

In laboratories, medical researchers are using semantic computing tools to undertake some of the most intricate analytical tasks which are currently being neglected. This additional information could provide more relevant information to assist in the development of new therapies for complex conditions, such as cancer and diabetes. From the information collected, researchers, using advanced analytics and pattern recognition software, produce information to allow clinicians to develop new care treatments paths.

In the future semantic computer tools may expand their role from the perfect research and medical assistant to a more to hands role developing clinical workflows, highlighting customised wellness health maintenance treatments, and prescribing chronic treatments which only licensed practitioners can do today.

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