The future of healthcare is preventative and will be heavily dependent on big data.
By Olu Ogunlela
In 2014, shortly after returning from studying and working in the US for 9 years, I was hit with the challenges of living in a developing nation. The lack of proper infrastructure meant there was less time in a day. Traffic, unstable electricity, water supply issues and the likes, had its way of consuming time without much concrete work accomplished. Apart from this, I was juggling work as an entrepreneur and my athletic ambition as a professional cyclist (something I did in the US with more ease). This frustration, plus a constant reminder of a Peter Drucker’s quote “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” led me to conclude that I needed to develop a way of tracking how my time was being spent. After about 2 years of trials, I built a working prototype of an app without coding, by combining a digital calendar to input data on time spent and a spreadsheet to analyze the data to mine for actionable insights. This, in addition to another 2 years of research and data analysis, has led to the birth of Life Intelligence.
Life Intelligence, like it implies is very similar to Business Intelligence which according to Wikipedia, comprises the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for data analysis of business information. I like to define Life Intelligence as a technology aided data driven process for analyzing life information and developing insights to help individuals maximize their life potential. So far, our prototype has collected over 70,000 hours of life data from 143 users. The insights generated from the analysis of this data informed several behavioral changes amongst its users. Most of these interventions have led to better health, while improving or maintaining optimal productivity. Hence, we see the potential of Life Intelligence in the healthcare sector.
According to an article titled: Integrated Theory of Health Behavior Change, “Researchers suggest that personal behaviors cause more than 50% of illness.” The World Health Organization (WHO) states that Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years. The third, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.0 million lives that same year (see figure 1). All three are diseases which better lifestyle choices could have eradicated, but most times people are unaware until it’s too late.
In developing countries, the biggest benefit of Life Intelligence in healthcare will be in life data collection to better understand, track and eradicate diseases like lower respiratory tract infections and other communicable disease which are currently the top killers in low income countries, majority of which are in sub-saharan Africa (see figure 2). In the United States and other developed nations where the top killers are non-communicable, lifestyle diseases (see figure 3), Life Intelligence will empower individuals to make better lifestyle decisions and address these diseases way ahead of their maturity stage.
Workplace illness like burnout, stress, depression is another area Life Intelligence will play a role in eradicating. The effect of workplace illness is difficult to measure, because every individual is different and data isn’t available to show the effect of work-life balance. Insights from our prototype app for one user showed a 129% increase in productivity in just 11 weeks due to an increase in work-life balance. With this known, we can conclude that an employee deploys about 50% of his potential at his/her job when he/she isn’t engaged and lacks work-life balance. When an employee is engaged and well rested, performance increases. Life Intelligence will enable individuals maximize their time outside work and help employers maximize their workforce productivity. At Liferithms, we have created a product which will enable organization achieve peak performance by improving workforce productivity, without sacrificing the health and well-being of their employees.
We envision a world where a product isn’t rated based on its perceived value but on the effect of the use of the product in helping an individual achieve his/her goals and objectives. We also envision the use of non penetrative blood tests in guiding food and nutritional choices for the day. Preventative healthcare will be powered via Life Intelligence and it will reduce healthcare cost and deaths dramatically. The future of healthcare is big data.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.