September 16

Fueling Healthcare Research with Weather Data

Advances in machine learning and patient-specific real-time data are leading to discoveries and correlations never before thought possible with human analysis. Physicians can now study the complex correlations between patient health issues and a nearly infinite list of environmental data that cause or exacerbate a patient’s condition. With these correlations identified, physicians and patients alike have the opportunity to forecast external triggers and mitigate the effects before they present themselves.

With increasing frequency, researchers are turning to hyper-localized environmental condition datasets to tell the story of external impacts.  In addition to traditional weather conditions such as temperature, wind and barometric pressure, incorporating more unique datasets such as air quality provides insight into the impact of our ever-changing environment. The combination of billions of unique humans, each in their own changing environment clearly equates to scientific opportunities primed for machine learning.

Unfortunately, our increasingly varied climatic conditions and urban development have created ample risk factors for those individuals sensitive to environmental pressures. According to a study published by the World Health Organization, up to 4.2 million deaths can be attributed to exposure to ambient (air) pollution. That same study highlights a harsh reality – 91% of the global population lives in areas where air quality generally exceeds guideline limits.

A Leading Use Case – Migraines
Migraines are one of the ailments where doctors are identifying – with greater accuracy – that weather conditions and air quality are leading triggers. Many who suffer from a form of this condition, which includes severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, among other uncomfortable symptoms, can confirm these environmental impacts. This is backed up by research from the American Migraine Foundation, where more than a third of those afflicted, claim that weather patterns are the culprit of their headaches.

Top 10 Triggering Conditions
A broad review of scientific studies, patient surveys, and experts reveals the following conditions as prime candidates for triggering migraines in patients:

  1. Temperature changes
  2. High humidity
  3. High winds
  4. Rain
  5. Barometric pressure changes
  6. Extremely dry conditions
  7. Bright lights and sun glare
  8. Lightning
  9. Poor Air Quality
  10. Pollen

Young woman athlete feeling lightheaded or with headache on a cold winter day in the track of an urban park.

 

Use Case: Increasing Migraine Correlations with Weather Data and Machine Learning
A leading healthcare software provider has developed an application that pulls from a wide array of external datapoints (aka migraine risk factors) on a daily basis – all in an effort to identify patient-specific triggers. While some of these datapoints must be entered manually such as food and beverage consumption, the application automatically makes API calls to AerisWeather  to incorporate user-specific environmental conditions as determined by the patients latitude and longitude.  From there, the application’s machine-learning algorithms go to work to identify the intersection of lifestyle & external conditions that trigger migraine events. As each day goes by, the application learns more and more about the patient’s unique & complex triggering mechanisms, gradually increasing their diagnostic accuracy. From there, the application provides optimized virtual precautionary nudges for individual patient health, as well as the user base in aggregate.

Does Weather Affect…?
It’s not often that an open-ended question like this is viewed as an exciting opportunity, but that’s surely the case in health care. Do you know whether environmental conditions trigger or affect the health condition you’re researching (or experiencing)? The answer is in the data and that data – whether it be historical, current or forecasted – is easily accessible in today’s big data world. AerisWeather has partnered with a wide variety of companies & research institutions in the healthcare space to provide these data points from locations around the globe.

Take Action
Whether you’re just starting to investigate environmental influences or, in production with a patient-facing application, environmental data is readily available. Research scientists can sign up for a free developer account today at AerisWeather or contact our Sales Team to learn more about our API product and experience. For those Product Managers searching for an easy data integration, our portfolio of software toolkits will have you up and running in no time.

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