5 Questions for Dr. David J. Cook, Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic

Patient data and analytics are vital to the healthcare experience today. To learn more, we recently caught up with Dr. David J. Cook, professor of anesthesiology at Mayo Clinic, who also has an appointment in the engineering section for the Center of the Science of Healthcare Delivery.

Dr. Cook built MC Health Connection, a cloud-based architecture designed to alter care models and improve the patient experience. Using a tablet, patients, family members and physicians can track their progress with recovery following surgery. In the video below, Dr. Cook shares his thoughts on the three elements for changing care models.

Intel: How can wearables and big data work together to improve healthcare?

Cook: The first element in the evolution of care is in acquiring data from patients in non-intrusive ways that integrate with their daily lifestyles. We need to give patients the opportunity to share insights into their daily health cycles, which would lead to early detection of disease and ultimately improve the quality of their lives.

The second element is connecting patient-generated data to a gateway so that it can inform decisions. Data alone is not enough and the clinical care model is not sufficient unless it has useful and actionable patient health data.

The third element is connecting that gateway to a healthcare infrastructure that is accessible to both patients and their healthcare providers. These elements are just beginning to work together to create an intelligent healthcare model.

Intel: What can you imagine for the future of healthcare?

Cook: We need to shift our thinking and be ready to participate in healthcare models that empower patients to contribute and engage in their own healthcare. The future is shifting away from a passive delivery model to one that focuses on real-time patient engagement. This is probably the fundamental philosophical and social transition that’s going to occur in healthcare.

The way we engage with the world is shifting how we live our daily lives—whether that’s in how we bank, plan our travel or decide where to eat or what to buy. It’s reasonable for patients to expect that we deliver healthcare models that connect to modern technologies that can greatly improve their health and longevity.

Intel: How have patient needs changed in the past 100 years?

Cook: In the past, there was a belief that illnesses were just something that happened to patients. Therefore, the responsibility for patient wellness fell entirely on someone who typically didn’t give much thought to preventative care. Now, that model is certainly suitable for acute appendicitis, or typhoid fever, or getting run over by a wagon, but that psychosocial model doesn’t work for diabetes. It doesn’t work for hypertension. It doesn’t work for obesity, which is among the ailments affecting the majority of the patients that we see today. That transition is incredibly important.

Intel: How is big data changing your approach to patient care?

Cook: Technology has changed what I do tremendously. Technology is radically changing the work experience of physicians; its impact on my own work is extraordinary. I’m an anesthesiologist and I work in cardiac surgery—we get data on multiple physiologic parameters every second. When you have that much data it begins to add amazing amounts of value.

The amount of data that we have now provides a remarkable patient safety net. We can now pull data and identify certain patterns that require immediate physician attention. We didn’t have that in the past. This is a completely transformative way of delivering healthcare.

Intel: What keeps you up at night?

Cook: What keeps me up at night, more than anything else, is frustration at the slow pace forward. What is needed is so absolutely and clearly evident. Yet there seems to be an effort to reach a large comprehensive platform solution, as opposed to creating a variety of smaller solutions that you can test on a relatively small scale. It feels like every week and every month that goes by there’s this pressing need in the United States and elsewhere for cost-effective healthcare that’s of high quality. The way to that is relatively straightforward, I think.