Giulia Besana (Research Analyst, Health Insights)
Nino Giguashvili (Senior Research Analyst)

Sepsis. The word alone may not ring a bell for many of us, but if you ask a healthcare professional or a hospital worker, they will tell you a different story.

Sepsis is a body wide organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to generalised infection which affects many internal organs and, if not recognised and managed promptly, can lead to septic shock, multiple organ failure and death. Sepsis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is a serious burden on healthcare systems.

According to the WHO, there were nearly 49 million cases and 11 million sepsis-related deaths globally in 2017, accounting for almost 20% of all deaths worldwide. Sepsis is also a major cause of neonatal mortality.

Care Quality and Patient Safety

Dealing with sepsis is often something as simple and obvious as care quality and patient safety. The following fact alone speaks for itself: sepsis is one of the most common life-threatening conditions that triggered by healthcare-associated infections (HAI — also known as nosocomial infections, referring to infections that are contracted in healthcare facilities).

Sepsis is therefore a very tangible health threat posed right at the place where a patient is supposed to be cured. Time is highly critical for survival, as the risk of mortality increases every hour that appropriate antimicrobial therapy is delayed.

The Role of Technology in Sepsis Prevention

Most sepsis deaths could be prevented with appropriate preventive measures, early detection, and timely treatment. The WHO estimates that elaborate infection prevention and control programs can reduce the risk of sepsis infection by as much as 30%.

So, early detection to prompt timely intervention clearly deserves great attention. Digital technology plays a critical role in this area as it allows the collection, combining, and bringing together of data from different sources in a context-relevant fashion, supporting care teams in predicting, identifying, and preventing the condition.

As an example, after the introduction of a digital system of hospital infection alert, leaders in Cambridge are reporting decreased death rates over the past three years.

Data Intelligence for Patient Value

It takes hospitals and healthcare facilities to accelerate the shift towards data-driven intelligent patient safety, enabled by real-time data collection, transmission, and analytics. Healthcare facilities must turn into smart, intelligent, digital care providers.

Data intelligence capabilities lie at the core of a digital hospital ecosystem and are key in an environment where the increasing volume, velocity and variety of data is crucial for the creation of patient value, specifically when patients’ safety and life is concerned.

According to a recent IDC Survey, one out of three healthcare organisations in Europe is using or plans to use IoT technology to remotely track vital signs of patients within the care facility. Also, 13% are already deploying AI to analyse data in real time and provide intelligent patient monitoring at the point of care.

Such intelligent approaches can translate into the ability of healthcare providers to identify and monitor patients at risk, spot subtle changes in patient health status that can be early predictors of sepsis, generate alerts and help automate the response, for example by customising treatment protocols to sepsis patients’ individual needs.

An intelligent command centre can anticipate demand and allow timely action on needs before they emerge, as well as streamlining communication, processes and workflows, resource allocation, and asset and process tracking (antibiotic prescription and use, hygiene and infection control processes etc.).

The Intelligent Health Enterprise Approach to Sepsis Management

Data intelligence solutions combining smart monitoring devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies can consolidate multiple test results, bedside monitoring outputs, medical records, and treatment guidelines across disparate platforms. This potentially gives physicians access to rich data in real time and allows the prediction of risks early on, provide actionable insights and so support clinical decision-making processes in sepsis prevention.

However, this approach to data intelligence requires looking at technologies such as AI and advanced analytics not just as solutions to put on top of a technology stack, but as the intelligent core of a new enterprise platform. This core uses data produced within and outside the organisation to constantly predict outcomes and improve processes and decisions.

This vision of the healthcare enterprise is what determines the real impact of technology solutions on the management of sepsis and other HAI, particularly in the new realm of COVID-19.

But this isn’t the full story yet.

If you want to know more about how the healthcare sector should approach data intelligence to enhance its intelligent capabilities and thrive, please register at our IDC European Healthcare Executive Digital Forum in October.

In an interactive environment, European healthcare leaders will discuss how the digital acceleration experienced in the past few months can be a launchpad for strategic transformation, particularly after the advent of COVID-19.

For further information on how to join the Summit contact Helena Chappell.

And to learn more about our upcoming research and key topics, contact Adriana Allocato, Silvia Piai, Giulia Besana or Nino Giguashvili.