How to make the most of health data?

With the rise of sensors and trackers embedded in citizens’ lives, care providers and health systems can get a complete view of their patients. Voice-operated and user-friendly technologies also enable doctors to access new data sources. Nonetheless, we still fail in medical data management and are not ready yet to convert data into knowledge, claimed the experts of the session “Health Anywhere, Anytime” organised this week at the HIMSS & Health 2.0 European Conference.

“Patients are ready to take more responsibility and access their own data. But we have to guarantee transparency first. As a result, patients will trust technologies, and from this point, we will be able to improve patient outcomes,” pointed out Anne Werner Løhndorf, management consultant at NNIT.

To make healthcare smart, personalised and patient-oriented, a few factors are crucial: easy access to standardised, significant, and reliable data, and AI-based solutions to process information in such a way, that patients, doctors, and providers don’t have to spend hours wandering in the notes stored in the electronic health records. What’s even more important, a culture change is necessary to head towards evidence-based, preventive interventions.

We also have to rethink reimbursement policies and make the quality of collected data the highest priority. The challenge is to process trustworthy and carefully selected information instead of gathering every little detail about the patient’s health and life.  

If patients are willing to monitor vitals, track their activity and sleep patterns, it would be an enormous waste not to include this feedback to improve quality of care. As the citizens are getting more empowered, they deliver data from wearables for the providers for free and expect to make the best use of it. That’s why we have to start perceiving information as one of the most valuable health assets.

“There are some stakeholders, be they clinicians, patients, innovators, administrators, or any others who are willing to embrace this new connected world and the data being generated from it. However, I believe that we still have a long way to go to be able to bring this to market in a way that they can scale and become successful.

“Still, regulatory and legislative policy measures have not been updated to enable safe, secure and effective use of data, or reimbursement models and procurement challenges, particularly for SMEs,” commented Rachel De Sain, CEO at Codesain.

In her opinion, the use of clinical, social, economic and environmental data, will enable to understand a more holistic view of what factors influence our need for care, adherence to treatments, and importantly, an ability to get and stay healthy and happy.

Jeroen Windhorst – Sjauw En Wa, chairman at CNIO Network The Netherlands, mentioned the importance of including nurses and other healthcare professionals with the development of new technology, and not only involving them during the implementation process.

“It happens too often that new technology is frustrating. Therefore, a lot of potential good data is not being used. Healthcare professionals face the increasing amount of data acquired within the healthcare organisation, but also data coming from the patients,” claims Jeroen Windhorst. At this point, doctors, nurses, and clinicians are not entirely supported and ready to deal with this change.

Markus Mueschenich, managing director at Flying Health, has an answer for the question of what to do to make better use of this data: “Make doctors aware that from now on they compete with those who are ready, although they are not doctors.” Healthcare is not the domain of healthcare institutions anymore like it was still a few years ago, patients are getting more empowered and decide where they “deposit” their data.

Reducing unclear data, recording relevant data, and introducing tools to process data for clinical practice and research are crucial for the successful implementation of value-based healthcare.

Artur Olesch is a freelancer digital health journalist.

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