Healthcare is becoming more personalized and predictive each day. And at the heart of all this – vast amounts of data. All aspects of data from collection, storage, access, to analysis and of course the crucial one of protection, will dominate healthcare IT conversations more than ever before.
Why this unprecedented focus on data? Let’s explore.
Can two patients of the same age and sex, undergoing treatment for the same condition, react differently to the same medication? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. One of the key reasons for this is our individual makeup – clues to which lie hidden in our genes. So, when the human genome project was launched, it offered researchers more opportunities to understand the biological aspects that guide our individual needs and responses to care. It was a turning point in biological research, which paved the way for many further studies. Since then, labs have made available (and continue to provide) valuable data about health and disease. However, all the data uncovered in the research labs needs to be translated into actionable insights for healthcare providers in hospitals and clinics. Only then can doctors understand what works for every individual patient and offer highly personalized care for each of them.
Though, this is not the only source of data to be considered in developing care plans or providing treatment. Findings from clinical trials, data locked in patient history and electronic medical records, inputs directly gained from patients and their wearables… it’s raining data!
The sheer quantum of it all brings new opportunities as well as questions, at each stage of the data lifecycle, right from collection, to analysis and application. Researchers, doctors, insurance companies and patients are all asking – how can they make the most of this data? To answer this, healthcare IT will have to:
- Build more robust but interoperable systems. There’s more data than ever before. It’s coming from different sources and disparate systems. Think clinical trials, hospital records, doctors’ notes, and wearables. Getting these disparate sources to talk and consolidate data is the first step to unlocking the power of information.
- Improve analytical capabilities. Vast amounts of inputs are available, no doubt. But we need smart analytics to spot patterns, suggest trends and provide meaningful cues. This calls for unconventional ways of organizing and looking at data.
- Focus more on data security. Multiple sources, multiple users and multiple user devices – this compounds the security challenge. Healthcare IT will have to build systems and solutions to protect patient data, while facilitating easy access to it.
All these possibilities make healthcare IT one of the most exciting spaces to track over the next few years. And for those who can juggle data, fit its puzzle-like pieces together and uncover valuable information… the opportunities are immense.