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Using Data Science to Uncover Insights and Drive Engagement

“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” (Sir William Osler – Canadian physician and one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, died in 1919.)

A recurring theme in the Connected Health conference in San Diego was how to integrate data – across platforms, time, geographies, applications and remote monitoring tools – to better manage patient health. Your lifestyle and habits, where you live, where you work, whom you interact with, all these factors impact your health today and need to be included. The big challenge is to filter the multiple data points to uncover meaningful insights and drive values-based change – shifting away from making sick people better towards more of a focus on keeping people healthy.

Combining the qualitative with the quantitative

Brandi Newell, Manager of Research & Insights at MyFitnessPal, talked about the importance of marrying qualitative research with quantitative data. She described how she uses ethnographic research (focus groups, interviews) to learn more about the motivations and frustrations of their wide range of users. About 40% of consumers use the application to lose weight, others use it to manage medical conditions (monitoring sodium, cholesterol, sugar) and still others use it to gain weight (body builders, endurance athletes). In her words, the biggest benefit of this is to the consumer because “we are taking data out of silos to make it accessible and understandable.”

Customizing solutions

Mark Scrimshire, Entrepreneur in Residence at US Department of Health and Human Services/CMS, argued for the need to tailor solutions to user preferences and lifestyles. He argued that each application or solution might work for 2% or 5% or 10% of the population but it is impossible to get to 100% adoption. Instead, he pointed to the value of combining multiple sub-groups to build a 100% solution and to achieve higher levels of engagement. But gaining these insights requires reconciling the data and finding trends and correlations. We might have volumes of EHR records but these often serve as a billing record more than a picture of patient health. John Mattison, CMIO at Kaiser SoCal, echoed the theme that data within silos has far less value than when we connect it. In his words, we need to build personalized and community health solutions that “house the patient persona but are also person-centric.

Moving from volume to value

There was palpable excitement and thoughtful discussion at Connected Health around the topic of data in mobile health. We are far beyond the point of simply collecting data for data’s sake. The big challenge and opportunity ahead of us is to find meaningful correlations and patterns that make sense of the data. To weave together data points from different contexts and to create workflows that are customized and responsive to different patient groups.  At mPulse we are developing data analytics solutions that build upon patient demographics, population health data and psychographic data to personalize solutions that speak to our users and meet them wherever they are in their health journey.

About mPulse Mobile

mPulse Mobile offers healthcare organizations consumer-focused mobile messaging solutions that improve engagement and health outcomes. Delivering communications through multiple channels, mPulse capabilities include a secure, context-based, HIPAA-compliant platform.  mPulse enables the leading health plans, providers and pharmaceutical companies to improve the health and wellbeing of consumers by making health care communications relevant to the modern lifestyle. For more information, please visit


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