Clearsense: delivering healthcare value and vision through hybrid-cloud success

Have you ever wondered how healthcare is caring for the sick rather than the healthy? Data now allows the industry to change this and provide predictive maintenance for the human body. But what do Twitter, Thomas Edison and Dunkin’ Donuts have to do with it? When Clearsense’ Chief Innovation Officer Charles Boicey was at the Cloudera Palo Alto studio recently, we took the opportunity to sit down for an impromptu interview and find out. 

Read on as we discuss the value Clearsense brings to the healthcare industry, how Cloudera’s platform enables this as well as Charles’ vision for the future of healthcare.

Interview with Clearsense CIO, Charles Boicey

Q1: What is the value to Clearsense customers from the insights you deliver?

From a value perspective, you’ve got to really put things into a few buckets. There’s the clinical bucket, the operational bucket, the financial bucket, but near and dear to my heart is the research bucket as well. And I’m going to start with that one because it is my favorite: research advances healthcare. 

Research value

Researchers in healthcare need access to a host of information: data produced within the environment, external to the environment from patients themselves, as well as publicly-available data. If they can access this all from a single location, they do their job right away and no longer have to join a conga line waiting for data to be produced or wait for it to be produced by an analyst or report writer.

Within the Clearsense researcher environment, we have done the work necessary to be compatible with the internal review board or IRB. A researcher can come into our environment in a de-identified fashion, find out if there’s sufficient information, enough patients to conduct a clinical trial or to produce further research, and then simply start working with the data. We have clients that have been able to eliminate mice studies in some of their research projects because of the fact that all the data was already available to them.

Clinical value

Second, the clinical perspective and the insights we provide for those users. Clearsense has the capability to monitor patients in real time. What does that mean? Within the ICU environment or the high acuity environments, there’s a lot of data coming from physiological monitors, ventilators, from smart pumps. We’ve built algorithms that allow our clients to understand how the patients are doing, but, more importantly, the likelihood of them deteriorating in the next 60 minutes, 90 minutes, two hours. And then also taking it a little bit further; predicting the likelihood of them entering a disease pathway such as sepsis because the earlier we can detect it, the quicker we can treat it, and the better off the patients are.

Something really exciting that we’ve been doing over the last few months is in the realm of undetected conditions. Believe it or not, our healthcare organizations have patients that have type two diabetes, are hypertensive, yet, those conditions have been undetected or undiagnosed. We help them identify those patients too.

Operational value

Going into operations, it’s really important that, operationally, hospitals and clinics run as smooth as they can. That means understanding where the bottlenecks are and understanding, from a workflow perspective, what clinics are best to schedule patients for. So if in an ambulatory environment delays are starting to build at the labs, the best course of action may be to to divert people to radiology.

We do a lot of work to ensure that the ambulatory environment produces maximum yield. We can identify patients that are unlikely to show up as well as highlight those that are likely to fill the slots. That in turn lets our customers reach out to them in a proactive fashion to verify they will be there and arrange transportation. 

Financial value

From a financial perspective, a lot of healthcare organizations process their own accounts receivable, work down, and do their own collections. Clearsense helps them keep control of the whole process, ensuring that when the bills are dropped, they’re dropped correctly, eliminating denied days and returns. Also from a collections perspective, Clearsense guides them in choosing the most appropriate method to ensure the self-pay patients settle their accounts. Which is more effective, letter, SMS or phone? Which ones are likely to produce results directly, and which ones should be collected through a third party? 

All of this happens within the Clearsense environment. All the data assets and the tools to work with them, like the Cloudera Data Science Workbench, are all within Clearsense to be deployed as needed to deliver operational, clinical, financial and research value for our customers.

Q2: You mentioned you had the benefit of being able to go to the likes of Facebook and Twitter to understand how they were using their data, and then applying that to healthcare. Taking that a step further, how do you see what you have done, the approaches that you have taken, to be of benefit for other industries?

It’s interesting that you say that because healthcare has always been the laggard, if you will. And I saw this as our first opportunity to not just catch up with logistics, with finance, with banking, but to maybe surpass them, and then have them come to us and say, “Hey, wow, that’s some really interesting stuff you’re doing in healthcare. How might we apply it to our environment?” And we actually have.

Clearsense does have clients outside of healthcare, and it’s been interesting to apply that which we’ve learned for those clients. I wish I could mention them, but I can’t. They’re the typical shy companies; you get the picture. But working with them is really satisfying. At one project, I went head-to-head with my nemesis, Google BigQuery, and actually beat them by five minutes. Within the Cloudera stack you can actually accomplish that.

Q3: Looking at the evolution of the Cloudera stack itself, what are some of the key points that you see as immediate benefit for Clearsense?

Clearsense has always been very close to the committer community, and I am very pleased to see Cloudera is now also fully committed to this. That, which the community has been able to produce, will now come back into the product. Product direction will be absolutely market-driven, and at the same time technology-driven, and that is very exciting for us.

And I think the first thing that we’re doing right now is really taking advantage of the hybrid-cloud environment. Really, we’ve always worked in a hybrid-cloud environment; now it’s actually been declared as such. From a healthcare perspective, there are some great products that are being built, and they’re not necessarily going to end up in Cloudera nor in Clearsense for that matter. They’re going to end up in private cloud environments, on-premises, in a public cloud. We can now take advantage of those and seamlessly move between them.

There is another situation where this is really relevant. There are a lot of organisations in not only healthcare, outside of it too, that started their data journey, invested and then got stuck. By being able to leverage hybrid-cloud infrastructures, I can now extend Clearsense into their environment. They don’t have to throw away the millions they spent to get their environment up and running; their investment does not go to waste. It can be utilized to take advantage of the Clearsense tool set in their environment and without Clearsense having to deploy multiple on-premises or cloud environments all over the place, which would become completely unmanageable. Our goal is to get as many healthcare organizations using Clearsense, right now we’re a little bit over 5,000 of them, and hybrid-cloud makes it possible.

Q4: The Cloudera Data Platform will be the industry’s first enterprise data cloud, delivering the ability to do multi-functional analytics on any data, on any infrastructure with consistent security and governance in a platform that is 100% open. Which of those four key aspects are you looking forward to most?

I’m looking forward to what comes out of the community from an open-source perspective, but I’m going to have to go through the whole list. So secondary to that, unencumbering our clients, unencumbering users out there as far as what the data structure looks like or what the data assets is, is absolutely essential. If you think about what we’re able to do now, we’re able to extract a mode that transformation doesn’t need to occur unless there’s actually a use case for it. And third, but definitely not least in the list, is the absolutely essential ability to do end-to-end analytics in one single environment is, and to be able to do this with whatever your skill level is. So if I’m at the PhD data scientist level I can do my work. Also, if I’m at the business analysts level I can do my work. And what’s really, really interesting as these technologies progress, is that you’re going to see those to meet somewhere in the middle where the business analyst will be able to do data science work, and the data scientist will then be able to have everything that they need in one place and not have to do the data wrangling or the business analyst type work.

Q5: Where is Clearsense going next, for as far as you can talk about it, and how do you see Cloudera as a critical partner in being able to deliver it?

We have a project that’s been ongoing with the University of California at Irvine for the past three years called Personical. Together, we’ve developed-out the complete infrastructure to not only capture an individual’s data 24/7 through wearables, but also to apply models against that data, and then send information back out to those that are wearing the devices. So, what does that look like? What does it mean?

Let’s say I’m somewhat overweight and that I’m borderline, prediabetes. I went to Dunkin’ Donuts this morning and ate five donuts. It’s now around 10 o’clock, I should be moving about. My blood sugar is still up. All this data is being collected back into Clearsense, analysed and prescriptive actions then sent back out to myself, the patients, the individuals. “Hey, you should really get up and move around. Oh, by the way, for lunch you’re having a salad today and here’s a good place to go for that. It’s only about a half a mile away so you might think about walking there.” As a result, by 1:00 or 2:00pm, your blood sugar has gone down. You’re doing pretty good, that was a good walk. And as you go into the evening, we make sure that a proper diet is adhered to for dinner, that you have a proper rest and so forth.

Clearsense is that environment that can accept that by the millions and it is crucial that this is scalable. If we’re able to provide an Android cellphone and a wearable for minimal cost, then this is really something that everyone can benefit from, 24/7 with feedback. We’ve built this out in conjunction with the folks at both UCI and Cloudera. Next year, in early 2020, we intend to put the whole project out as an open-source project with Clearsense providing service and support.

Back in 1903, Thomas A. Edison said that, “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” If you think about it, right now in healthcare we don’t care for health, we care for the sick. You don’t go see a doctor unless you’re ill. We want to shift that, and the only way to truly care for health is with an environment such as Clearsense sitting on Cloudera. An environment that can take advantage of multiple workloads wherever they reside, public cloud, private or on-premises.

Learn more about Clearsense’ use of Cloudera

Learn more about Clearsense’ use of Cloudera and watch the CDP Data Hub webinar replay to hear how they will leverage their hybrid-cloud success further. Read how the wider pharmaceutical and healthcare industry uses Cloudera to power their predictive insights and sign up here to get ready for the Cloudera Data Platform.

Wim Stoop
Wim Stoop

Director Product Marketing


by Adrienne McGuire on

Thanks for this interesting article on the deliverance of healthcare value and vision. It’s great to have reliable and up-to-date information. Keep up the good work!

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