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Strategies to manage digital health data

July 14, 2020

Digital health data is enhancing at such an unbelievable rate that usually its volume is calculated in exabytes. For you to understand, one exabyte is equal to one billion gigabytes. So, with that, all words that were ever spoken by people would need at least 5 exabytes of storage if we decide to save it as text. Moreover, the value of digital health data can be only compared with its volume in the condition that it is opened, managed, and crucially shared for the good. 

Meanwhile, expenses for healthcare continue to rise. It is estimated that by 2028, the U.S. healthcare will spend about $6.2 trillion.  Traction for pulling back such a strong cost curve has been sent towards value-based care a model of a pay for performance in which success is onward and upward being sent through the certain tracking of healthcare biometrics. Platforms of digital health using the data analyzed and collected through specific devices for remote patient monitoring are the solution that optimizes care for patients, perfect wellness, as together completing the goals of VBC. 

Data is everywhere

Digital capabilities are now implemented into different healthcare devices, starting from medical imaging machines and diagnostics and finishing in orthopedics and surgical instruments. As a result, all connected devices create a ceaseless stream of health data set for predicting, patient support,  or averting negative outcomes and managing perspective for better therapy insights and health. Experts believe that there is a lot of data and it only enhances annually by a zettabyte (trillion gigabytes). 

Data Science on Digital Health
Data Science on Digital Health

So what should we do with this amount of data? How we can gain access to it and then make use of it? 

Interoperability of destination

Healthcare has been fighting against challenges related to data interoperability for ages. At the very least, the industry is at the edge of great revelations. As more things lately collected, well-structured and clean Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) data is being loaded and protected in the efficient infrastructure of cloud computing, experts only needed here legacy patient medical records (EMRs). 

Various insurance claims, prescription, medical records, physician notes, genetic testing, medical images, and other possible diagnostics results are being collected digitally.  Previously all this clinical data has been hidden in separate,  unmanageable systems that are spread across different clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, urgent care centers, physicians’ labs, and offices.  Physicians spend many and many hours to put together the data they urgently need to work with their patients, and consumers and patients struggle to understand their health data across difficult disconnected networks. Moreover, the open question of ownership in EMRs that complicates the processes, is centered in a few vendors. Such big names like Cerner and Epic control about 50% of the whole EMR market. 

The future looks promising

The Future Of Digital Health
The Future Of Digital Health

Nowadays, healthcare systems hope to achieve interoperability entirely and permanently lies in HL7’s FHIR (Fast Health Interoperability Resources). This is a globally recognized information format standard for EMRs. Moreover, information gathered by fitness trackers, like Apple Watch and other mobile apps, are also added to this standard.

Now, we are standing at the edge where a single language of this exchange can achieve scale, is stabilized by the enhancing and constant flow of zettabyte-volume of needed biometrics and health data. Also, take into consideration the latest actions of the US government (the 21st Centuries Cures Act and the related rules that have been released at the beginning of 202 by the ONC and CMS) as extra proof that our hopes are not so idle. 

Below are three essentials for all participants across the healthcare system to use to the best advantage of digital health data: 

  • Make it accessible

Hop on the train of interoperability. Nowadays, innovation is pushed by FHIR standards that support application programming interfaces (APIs) for trading EMRs and supporting the process of advancement towards the aim of complete interoperability, bust still all of this needs the cooperation of all stakeholders.  With the help of FHIR, the system is developing on a true and firm standard across all boards. As a result, that will become a huge boost for involving developers and enhancing interoperability. 

  • Make it feasible

Do not be afraid to risk. Enhance your latest offerings with capabilities of transformation that are provided by Big Data, Cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, do not try to do all alone.  It is time to search for partnerships with experts across different specialties to fully use the generated data in the healthcare system and develop it even further. Search and collaborate with the following: 

  • Data analytics
  • Clinical SMEs
  • Data architects
  • Ethnographic researches 

See all of it in this way. Complex understanding of a single patient’s genetic make-up connected with bug insights of medical conditions, their environment, and social surroundings develops a great data set for the system, population, and, most importantly, for patients.

  • Make it safer

The enhanced seamlessness and ubiquity of data exchange push an analogous carefulness about those entrusted with it, that includes insurance companies, physicians, hospitals, and new healthcare participants, technology-focused and consumer firms like Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft. Every detail, tool, and data that have been worked to achieve the ideal of shared information and all the hope of perfectioned precise medicine can be ruined by imprecise stewardship. 

The human beings served by the healthcare system are worth the best, however, this best in healthcare is more and more not defined only by great therapies but likely by better user experiences and engagements with customers, none of them sometimes assure you privacy. The healthcare system can look overwhelming. Thus, experts should work on making the experience more personal, more accessible, more suitable, and less chaotic. However, before making these goals real, the healthcare system still should sustain and cultivate patient trust as the number one priority.  

The corporate vice president of Microsoft Research and Incubation, Peter Lee, believes that, on the one hand. there is a huge tension between the desire and need to develop new engagements with consumers in the healthcare system, and on the other hand, there is a wish to create different surveillance technologies. 

For now, this is the most balanced path the system should follow. The future of healthcare has to be developed on collaboration and trust. Great technology and innovations are pushing the industry, however, the main mission we should still remember to care for health, making it possible for customers to maintain the most informed, productive, and strong connections with the providers of services. All in all, digitized health data is supporting us on the way, lowering expenses, and building a strong hope for better health in the future.  

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