‘You’ve got to keep it simple; make it work; make it think.’

Josema Cavanillas, Atos

(HealthTech Wire / Interview) - Josema Cavanillas, Chief Big Data & Security Officer at Atos Iberia, talks about the potential of domotics, powered by genomics and big data, for dispelling some of the pressures of an ageing population

There are many challenges facing the healthcare industry today – including a rise in chronic conditions, an ageing population and ever-tighter budgets. Does digital technology hold any keys to resolving these issues?

There are huge advances taking place in the field of domotics at the moment that are helping care for ageing patients and for those with chronic conditions in new ways. By connecting up patients from home – and providing a follow-up procedure that can be effectively monitored by hospitals – all without the need for hospital visits – patients are better empowered to manage themselves and their health better and beds are freed up, enabling hospitals to make financial savings.

So how can you see the field of domotics evolving in coming years?

I can see domotics moving into a whole new arena, thanks to tools like big data and genomics – enabling patients to be treated more individually, based upon their genomic profile. The fast, large-scale processing of data is enabling systems to identify many elements that were not able to be identified so early on in the past.

Epidemics, for example, can be identified at an earlier stage using big data technologies. Also, by isolating differences in gender, geographical location, age, lifestyle habits and so on, big data can also identify prognosis differences for, say, two people with the same disease or condition. This functionality simply did not exist before: It was more, ‘This is the patient; this is their disease ... therefore this is the protocol.’ Big data and genomic technologies help to improve diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients.

Have you messages that will inspire our readers, the healthcare IT leaders of Europe, about the potential of big data in healthcare?

I’d like to quote a sentence that I use a lot with customers. My advice is always the same: ‘Keep it simple. Make it work. Make it think.’ What do I mean by this? Well, many would agree that there’s a kind of ‘information pollution’ in health IT ... so many things on the market; so many possibilities. ‘Make it work’ means, ‘Yes, contract the IT systems that make your hospital work. You know the operations and the operations work: perfect!’ The second thing: ‘Make it think’ means that, apart from the usual hospital information systems, you need a second system which is usable by nurses, by doctors, by researchers and so on, in which the system learns from what’s happening in the hospital and combines this learning with international sources of knowledge. It can combine all this to give you the knowledge you need to be able to provide the right diagnosis, the right prognosis – and can suggest to you the best way to treat your patient.

Readers might also be interested in a book that I have co-authored with Edward Curry, Vice President of the Big Data Value Association and Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO and Scientific Director at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Called New Horizons For a Data-Driven Economy: A Roadmap for Usage and Exploitation of Big Data in Europe, it provides the big picture on how to exploit big data – and it has a specific chapter dedicated to health which they may find of interest.

Is there anything else that you think is important to mention to our readers?

One of the areas of my own work – and one that I’m speaking about at the World of Health IT conference, is cyber-security. Now, banks are, rightly, very concerned about cybersecurity – so is the army, so are the police. In the healthcare industry, however, the importance of cyber-security is vastly under-estimated. Healthcare institutions across Europe are simply not aware of how dangerous the landscape is – and how vulnerable they – and their patients’ data – are to cyber-attacks. And there’s much they can do to prepare themselves! Atos has a wide range of IT applications in the healthcare field. Atos is working in the present, and preparing for the future.


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Atos SE is a leader in digital services with pro forma annual revenue of circa € 12 billion and circa 100,000 employees in 72 countries. Serving a global client base, the Group provides Consulting & Systems Integration services, Managed Services & BPO, Cloud operations, Big Data & Cyber-security solutions as well as transactional services to a global client base in different business sectors, including Healthcare. The Group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic & Paralympic Games.