Turning data into better healthcare
Healthcare is facing major challenges and the use of data and information can play an important part in solving several of them. With the use of machine learning or other types of artificial intelligence (AI) it is possible to both enhance knowledge about the healthcare innovation chain and to develop information driven care solutions in healthcare. Carl Savage, Visiting Research Fellow in Healthcare Service, Management and Leadership at Halmstad University is researching how AI could help address and improve some of healthcare’s many challenges.
“My research focuses on how we can become better at learning in healthcare. Often, we get caught in a particular view of how healthcare is and should be. This can prevent us from learning new ways of working, of improving health and care, of meeting the needs of patients, or of understanding each other”, says Carl Savage.
Where healthcare data meets artificial intelligence
Carl Savage is a researcher at Karolinska Institutet based in Stockholm, Sweden. When visiting Halmstad University, he is part of the Healthcare Improvement Research Group, and focuses on how to develop and implement artificial intelligence in daily practice.
The technical development around collecting, storing and processing data makes it possible to find solutions to healthcare challenges with the help of data driven methods, so called information driven care.
He is also part of Halmstad University’s research programme Information Driven Care (IDC) that focuses on collaboration across organisations, regions and companies, with the goal to improve healthcare. The programme has gathered a unique group of researchers, national and international, with backgrounds in many different research fields.
“As researchers, we share a desire to improve healthcare, and with access to one of the leading settings for AI in Swedish healthcare – Halland – the possibilities to do so are great. The conversations that occur around our research projects stimulate us all to surface and question our assumptions about how things work. This is the essence of research, and it is hard to think of a more stimulating environment than this! It is truly an example of a university where different perspectives meet. I am very thankful to be a part of this.”
"Information driven care is an important strategy to ensure that the right information comes to the right person at the right time to facilitate evidence informed decision making."
Meaningful AI applications
At Karolinska Institutet, Carl Savage and his research group have conducted several forays into healthcare management together with medical doctors, nurses, and managers. They have learned a lot about leadership, innovation, business model thinking, lean value-based health care, complexity, change management, patient safety, AI, quality improvement and costing.
”The question of how to develop meaningful AI applications is one where I hope to bring these previous experiences to bear. For instance, in our two recent publications from Halmstad, where we looked at AI applications in practice and the overlap of the four paradigms of intervention, innovation, implementation and improvement sciences, and in a project at Halmstad University on how to develop information-driven processes for acute and hard-to-heal wounds together with Region Halland, Mölnlycke, Laholms kommun and Hyltebruks kommun”, says Carl Savage and continues:
“Wound care is an area which is often overlooked but carries with it much suffering as well as costs. It is a challenge because the care processes cross organisational boundaries, involving tertiary care, primary care, and community-based care. Data quality varies greatly and much more can be done to develop processes that are person-centered, continuous, safe and promote a good work environment.”
Make research accessible
Carl Savage became a researcher to improve the experience of health for staff and patients. For that to happen, research needs not only to be accessible and applied in practice, it also needs to be co-created with patients and providers.
“I’m well aware that not everyone reads research publications on their way to work and think researchers can do more to help healthcare learn from research. One way is to conduct partnership-based research in cooperation with the region, clinicians, patients, and others. Another is by developing teaching cases based on the research to spread knowledge and improve our learning capability in health care”, he says.
The main focus of Carl Savage´s research and teaching is to collaborate with patients, care providers and other stakeholders to develop innovative ways to improve healthcare.
I want to help people grow by becoming aware of the limitations of their current mindset and seeing new perspectives, such as through case-teaching" he says.
Carl Savage is looking forward to becoming a professor in the field. He wants to continue his work in improving the delivery of healthcare services in order to achieve better outcomes for patients and create value for staff, patients and their families.
Different levels of care
Based on the complexity and severity of patients’ needs and the nature of the patient-provider relationship, health systems typically consist of three levels of care:
Primary care: First level of contact with doctors and nurses specialised in family medicine, often referred to as general practice.
Secondary care: health services given by specialised medical professionals, often requiring a referral from a primary care provider.
Tertiary care: specialised care involving complex equipment, treatment or procedures, often for severe or life-threatening conditions.
Community-based care: for people who need healthcare assistance at home. Community care services include home support, nursing, physiotherapy and other rehabilitation services.
A complex challenge
According to Carl Savage, people engaged in healthcare often want to improve health outcomes and the care experience of patients, staff well-being and make more effective use of the resources available, so that the concerns of as many people as possible can be addressed.
During medical school he was struck by the number of frustrated care providers he met and realised that the system is seldom designed for staff to become the kind of care provider they really want to be. There is a mismatch between their aspirations and how well the context they work within can support them.
“This is a complex challenge and one that I feel could benefit from research to develop health systems better suited for the humans working and healing within them. Information driven care is an important strategy to ensure that the right information comes to the right person at the right time to facilitate evidence informed decision making”.
Text: Ida Hammar
Photo: Dan Bergmark, iStock
About Carl Savage
Carl Savage was born in Boston, USA. He attended medical school at Karolinska Institutet – Sweden's largest centre of medical academic research and one of the world's foremost medical universities. Prior to medical school he started doing research and has continued researching ever since.
Carl Savage has a PhD in Medical Management (Leadership, Organisation and Innovation) from Medical Management Centre at Karolinska Institutet (2011). His doctoral thesis "Overcoming Inertia in Medical Education: Navigating change through Adaptive Reflection", describes a practical process model for improving educational courses and programs.
Today Carl Savage is a researcher at Karolinska Institutet as well as a Visiting Research Fellow in Healthcare Service, Management and Leadership at Halmstad University.
About information driven care
Information driven care is the use of data and technology to find better and more effective ways to solve healthcare challenges. Solving problems through collecting, validating, structuring and storing large sets of complex healthcare data from different sources with the use of machine learning or other types of artificial intelligence.
By building up knowledge about the healthcare innovation chain from formulating and prioritising questions to data collection, to algorithms, to engagement, to explainability, to innovation, diffusion and implementation in practice, information driven care solutions in healthcare can be developed.