While data processing was already a major focus of the healthcare industry, especially for many start-ups, the Covid-19 health crisis has further reinforced the importance of data in the projects of companies and laboratories working in the sector.

The healthcare industry: what changes are to be expected in the post-Covid era?

The current pandemic is disrupting the lifestyles of billions of people, because of the virus itself and its effects, and particularly because of the containment policies that have, in a matter of weeks, become the norm. But the consequences of the pandemic are much more wide-ranging than the health field: an economic crisis, perhaps tomorrow political and societal upheavals. One thing is certain, nobody is in a position to anticipate and foresee such changes.
Faced with these past and future upheavals, the healthcare industry has a key role to play: treating patient, of course, but also predicting and alerting to ensure that those involved in healthcare can best manage health crises and, if possible, anticipate them.

Greater or less resilience in the face of change

While these issues will certainly not upset the “big pharma” companies, laboratories and especially start-ups can and must adapt quickly: “We are currently seeing a number of healthcare start-ups turning around or moving into data processing, even though they were not working specifically in this area before the crisis,” says Professor Florencio Travieso, Director of the MSc in Health Management & Data Intelligence at emlyon business school. With the need to predict the development of epidemics that have considerable, global repercussions, data processing is becoming a strategic issue. For the world has experienced and will continue to experience other epidemics, and the Covid19 pandemic undoubtedly marks a tipping point in the understanding and application of health policies.

Data for predicting and alerting...

Some start-ups did not wait for the crisis to exploit data. Such is the case with the Canadian start-up BlueDot, which offers an application for epidemic risk management. How does it work? By correlating scientific publications (using natural language processing and artificial intelligence) and air traffic forecasts to predict how epidemics will expand.
31 December 2019. BlueDot's algorithm identifies a Chinese scientific publication dealing with pneumonia of unknown cause related to an animal market.
On the same day, the application triggers an alert system that notifies Bluedot's customers (health agencies, hospitals and airlines) of a possible epidemic risk.


“We didn't know it was going to become a pandemic but we recognized some of the ingredients as similar to those seen during the Sras in 2003,” says Kamran Khan, the founder and CEO of BlueDot.


Another service that can provide valuable information to health authorities during an outbreak is Calyps, named after the Swiss-based company that is developing an application to predict the number of patients to be admitted to emergency and intensive care units. In this way, the service was able to help the Swiss government to transfer patients from one hospital to another, thereby preventing intensive care beds from becoming saturated. “The wonderful thing is that these systems will learn from these crises and will be able to predict the future better,” says Professor Florencio Travieso.

...without giving up privacy and ethics...

The healthcare industry working on the processing of individual data is faced with a trade-off between public health objectives and respect for privacy.
Photo by ev on Unsplash


The “StopCovid” project to track patients infected with Covid19 in France is causing fear and outcry. The healthcare industry working on the processing of individual data is faced with a trade-off between public health objectives and respect for privacy. A balancing act made even more complex in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes the doctrine of “Privacy by Design”, meaning that the respect for privacy must be integrated into the development of new services, products and applications.

The industry needs professionals who understand the data!

It is for all these reasons that Professor Florencio Travieso is calling for the training of healthcare industry managers capable of understanding the ethical and legal challenges of data processing.
This is in any case one of the strong points of the MSc in Health Management & Data Intelligence, offered at emlyon business school. This cross-functional training course will enable future managers to have a 360° view, with technical and business skills. At the end of this 18-month program, they will be in a position to engage in discussions with people in the healthcare field, as well as with data processing and artificial intelligence specialists.