“Data integration” with a purpose

Meet Somasundaram Raman, a Healthcare subject matter expert from Bangalore, India. Soma and IBM Health Corps team are working with CARE India to examine how data integration can bring insights into improving the supply chain for essential medicines.

CARE state unitWhat are some of the challenges we are experiencing in integrating the datasets for this project?
Because of the siloed applications — e-Aushadhi (which is a drug distribution application) and Sanjivani (which is a drug consumption application) — there is no consistent language, vocabulary, or data dictionary in terms of drug dosage form or drug strength. This is because of different people handling the applications; the common language has not been adopted. EDL (Essential Drug List) designations need to be adopted across all systems and all people – it brings a common standard.

One way to solve this problem in the long run is to create a machine learning mapping algorithm based on drug name, dosage form, and strength so that it can be automatically captured in master mapping and with a data stewardship module. This may reduce a lot of manual mapping that would take place across different systems.

Also, going forward, we want to see e-Aushadhi and Sanjivani rolled out at all levels of the health system and to both outpatient and inpatient care. Critical will be how to ensure adoption by users – that helps improve the completeness and quality of the data.

What are you taking away from this Health Corps experience?
I’m thinking if the model of Health Corps can be applied to our day-to-day work in IBM key account and projects. The way we’ve brought different experts in various fields as one unit for three weeks, it’s really a great experience. If this approach can be extended for some key accounts, that would be good. It gives a different experience to our partners like CARE and the Gates Foundation here. They can see the power of what we can achieve.

This is the “One IBM” approach. Bringing different expertise into one group can create a lot of value. I’m going to encourage my teams to work that way on projects when I return home.

What does it mean to you to be part of Health Corps, especially as someone who lives in India?

Health Corps really is living “Our Purpose” of being essential (as our IBM CEO Ginni Rometty put it). I hope the result of this small use case can expand to a greater project that improves the health of people living in Bihar and help reduce their out of pocket expenses (a major priority mentioned by the Principal Secretary of Health). This means a lot to me and I’m thrilled to be part of this journey.



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