We talked to Laura Rodríguez, Team Leader of Big Data & Analytics at Everis. Her digital talent has been crucial in setting up the ehCOSRemoteHealth telemedicine platform.
EhCOSRemoteHealth’s success has been driven by how you have been able to harness the potential of big data. How would you explain to someone outside this digital speciality what a big data professional does every day?
Our world generates a large quantity of data every second. Big data mines their useful knowledge to help make decisions.
The first thing I would mention is the importance of data. Nowadays the world is teeming with data: when you use public transport or see your doctor, you generate data. Your city, right now, may also be generating data every second with small devices that record air quality or monitor traffic.
If this huge amount of data – which may seem unconnected at first – can be properly processed and made meaningful for a number of purposes, it will provide useful knowledge with a constructive impact on society. It is in this process of knowledge creation that the big data professional comes into play. Their job consists of guiding and advising corporations on data analysis processes which help in decision-making.
Why did ehCOSRemoteHealth come about? How does it help to improve the everyday life of patients and doctors in particular, and of society in general?
When we started to develop this platform, we were looking to shift the paradigm of conventional medicine towards remote, virtual medicine known as “telemedicine”. Remote healthcare allows patients to remain in direct contact with their doctor by using services such as video consultation and without needing to go to the hospital unless there is an emergency. It also helps the healthcare professional to make decisions in real time by analysing data from their patient’s medical record. However, we have taken special care to ensure that as far as possible the service does not erode the confidence you get from visiting your doctor onsite at the surgery, and so we believe that browsing the platform should be intuitive and simple.
At present, ehCOSRemoteHealth is engaged in monitoring and controlling Covid-19. In this respect we provide it with the capacity to absorb the daily health data generated by the countries concerned through their Open Data applications. This allows each hospital to compare its admissions position with the national total while our document recognition and data cross-referencing techniques give the country an accurate estimate of the pandemic’s evolution.
What was the greatest challenge posed by a project of this kind during its development?
Big data projects pose a wide range of challenges which evolve over the course of the project and this means teams need to respond quickly. In our case, the Covid-19 pandemic changed our initial approaches on the fly. The main challenge we faced was not only managing and channelling the huge volume of health data (basically medical records), but also filtering and standardising it so that it made sense since it came from different sources (primary care, emergencies, etc.) and from different countries.
How have you applied big data to the project and what has its value been?
The success of a big data project depends on the management of and synergies between three variables: Volume, Velocity and Variety.
In any big data project, we always apply the value of the 3 V’s: Volume, Velocity and Variety in data processing.
For ehCOSRemoteHealth, we firstly addressed building a secure digital “store” to house the clinical data; then standardising them to create a single database with the same language; and finally we worked out the most appropriate display to allow healthcare professionals to efficiently study the evolution of their patients.
In the case of display, the big data professional’s skills allow them to set up predictive models; for example, predicting relapses in chronic patients.
What has been the most exciting part of your experience as a member of the digital team that has led ehCOSRemoteHealth?
We have a range of technical profiles in our Big Data & Analytics team. In this large-scale and highly socially responsible yet also exciting project, I have grown professionally by working alongside them every day: with the architects, we designed the virtual solution for storing the data; with the analysts, we learned to see what valuable information even the most insignificant data provided, their business value; and with the data scientists, we drew up algorithms to enhance diagnoses and, in short, the work of doctors.
I also feel very fortunate on a personal level. I specialised in this digital area because I was amazed by the big data projects that really contribute to society’s wellbeing. After my experience with ehCOSRemoteHealth, and especially given the current situation where by doing my bit I’m helping to look after the health of so many people, I can say that I am proud I chose this professional pathway.