Data doctors - improving healthcare and patient care with data analyticsChirag Shivalker
Global spending on data technology is expected to surpass $57 billion this year, with 10 percent increase per year through 2020.
It has been nearly a decade now that tremendous progress in digitizing medical records is being witnessed, globally. Said this, even pharmaceutical companies and various other trades involved with healthcare are aggregating years of research and development data in electronic databases. The federal governments and various other public stakeholders are promptly adopting the path to transparency by making decades of stored data usable, searchable, and actionable for overall healthcare sector. These moves are not only making the access to data easy, but analysis conducted on such databases are potent enough to do miracles in terms of predicting diseases and symptoms, and accurate medications; ultimately bettering patient care. But all said and done, there are healthcare players who are busy figuring out solutions for some of the key issues.
Drawbacks faced by health care service providers already using data & analytics
When it comes to practical use of data analytics; the upsides outweigh the downsides. Better data modeling, data visualizations and reporting has improved the quality and convenience for patients, healthcare providers and overall society as well. Looking at the success attained by existing healthcare players by putting at use data analytics; active participation can be encouraged by patients and providers to get a better look at the diseases, causes and treatments.
• Data management & analytic solutions for significant advances
Healthcare providers who already have implemented data management and analytics solution are witnessing significant advances in just a few years, in terms of population health monitoring and epidemic response, patient engagement and several other key health quality measures. Though they found the implementation cost to be an overhead, they have now started reaping benefits of it.
• Data security and personal information
The issue here is with the thought process that people carry about data security and personal information. They have a very personal connection and concern about sharing their health data. And they are not at fault is what we feel strongly. With so much of data and the kind of importance that it carries, inventions like Amazon’s peeping tom, the hands free camera and style assistant “echo look”, and incidents like stealing personal data of Hong Kong's 3.7 million registered voters are enough to send spine chilling shivers.
Thriving in the data management industry since more than two decades, we see this issue evolving and resolving too. These types of concerns are natural to be encountered, especially when efforts are being made to integrate data analytic tools and systems or the data is to be shared with data analytics experts.
Data analysis of fitness devices
Wearables have become indispensables for healthcare. Companies with health technology background like Philips, and entities like Google and Microsoft for whom healthcare is a new market to venture in, are watching the space and are making efforts to fund start-ups at least. Only time will show how they interface with fragmented health system.
The ground reality on the other hand is that though some health care organizations are leveraging their existing data, it is as good as none. It is the inception of partnerships between healthcare entities and all those involved in fitness, diet, and exercise data etc. Now, the challenge is to who would analyze the data? This for sure is going to turn tables in the data analytic vendor arena; suddenly everyone would enter the rat race to deliver connective or add-on services for fitness devices like Fitbit, Apple Health, etc.
Sentiment analytics from social media posts to study health of communities
We cannot shy away from the fact that though it is happening; it is being done on petty scale, delivering limited or no insights at all. We also cannot hide the success that researchers gained in following influenza outbreaks and understanding natural disaster response and several other public health efforts. But one thing that we are forgetting here about this success is that these are the people who are attentive, and their count is very less. There is a large population who is skeptical about sharing much about their personal health conditions on social media. We all know that if done by experts, sentiment analysis can add richness to the evidence for a number of questions like:
• Sentiment analysis and patient satisfaction survey would work to be the key in understanding why a large population or others at-risk do not utilize health care services?
• Social media can be used to reach clustered or targeted groups to promote health behaviors, promote wellness and healthy campaigns; alike marketing communities.
• Instagram and Snapchat, leading organic takeovers of social media have made inroads in marketing departments, so why not health promotions take the same route?
Profits in healthcare are important, but what next?
Profits are being made today as well, which is fine. Approx $3 trillion are flowing through the “health care system”. This is till the time major issues like right vs. privilege of health care and health, and need vs. want are addressed. Data in the healthcare segment is all set for disruption, which it seems is no more a farfetched possibility. Anything and everything which can transform health care from a data and information perspective, remains to be witnessed.