An era of open data in healthcare has now existed for a while. Open data helps provide equal access to health data to all the medical researchers. We have already seen a decade of advancement in digitized medical records, as pharmaceutical organizations and other medical entities have collected years of research and medical data on electronic databases. The government and other public stakeholders are accelerating the move towards transparency by making decades of medical data usable and actionable for the healthcare industry. They are also pushing forward the idea that all this medical data falls under PII, thus, the data will be seen as anonymous data unless the user grants access to particular parties.
Healthcare providers, researchers, and other stakeholders have access to new sections of knowledge in the form of data, called ‘Big Data”. It is so called because of its size, diversity, complexity, and timeliness. All the main stakeholders of the industry have started analyzing this big data to be better informed. Although these researches and efforts are in the early stages, this could potentially help the industry address problems like variability in healthcare and healthcare spends. For example, researchers can mine data to understand what treatments work best for a particular disease, identify patterns related to non-communicable diseases or drug side-effects, and other information that helps reduce the hospital costs for patients.
Data — A New Wealth
The amount of medical data has increased exponentially over the last few years because of new-computer based information systems. In 2005, only about 30% of office-based physicians and hospitals used Electronic Health Records (EHRs). By the end of 2011, this figure rose to more than 50% for physicians and nearly 75% for hospitals. Moreover, around 45% of US hospitals are now either participating in local or regional health information exchanges (HIEs) or are planning to do so in the near future. (Source — Center for US Health System Reform Business Technology Office).
In addition to clinical data, several other kinds of healthcare data are being used as an in the big-data revolution, including:
- Claims and cost data describing the services and their reimbursements
- Pharmaceutical R&D data describing the mechanism of drugs, side-effects, and toxicity
- Patient behavior and sentiment data describing their preferences and financial status
Big- Data in Healthcare
The use of big-data is transforming the way decisions are being made for the patients and the healthcare ecosystem. It has become necessary to make decisions that are right for both the parties. The section below best describes the new path for creating a holistic approach to healthcare:
- Right Living — Patients can build value by being active participants in their own treatment by making a conscious effort to input their diet and exercise data on the various healthcare apps available online like NHCT. This will allow these apps to collect and analyze user data and in turns help the users lead a preventive lifestyle rather than a reactive lifestyle.
- Right Care — The patient data is continuously analyzed to monitor their vitals and send in a notification if there is a cause to worry. The use of big-data in patient diagnosis ensures that patients receive the most timely and appropriate treatment available. In addition to the right diagnosis, right care requires coordinated care across all settings and providers.
- Right Provider — This path pushes on the fact that each patient should be treated by the best professionals and experts to have the best outcome. Big-data helps providers by yielding the medical history of a patient to ensure the best prognosis.
- Right Value — To fulfill the aim of this path, payers and providers will have to continuously improve healthcare quality while making it cost-effective using measures like timely reimbursements, elimination of claim fraud, and accurate patient diagnosis using big data.
- Right Innovation — This path involves using big-data to identify new approaches and treatments to better the treatment process for the users and providers.
This value path is always evolving as any new information becomes available to make the right and most effective decision, fostering an ecosystem loop of feedback. The concept of right care, for instance, could change if new data suggest that the protocol for a particular disease doesn’t produce optimal results. As a result of this new discovery, change in one area of the path will result in a change in the other areas, considering they are all interdependent. Big-data initiatives are on the road to transform the healthcare industry. In addition to reducing costs, they could potentially save more lives and improve overall healthcare quality.