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How is data-driven healthcare impacting patientcare?

Empirical evidence and data have always driven healthcare delivery and innovation. However, as the deployment of digital solutions has accelerated in the healthcare space, a vast quantity of digital information is being created. This offers new opportunities for data-driven healthcare to impact patient care.

How is data-driven healthcare impacting patient care?

Digital healthcare is a broad, multidisciplinary concept that bridges the intersection between technology and healthcare. Digital transformation in the field of healthcare stretches across many different aspects of software, devices, services and infrastructure, including mobile health (mHealth) apps, electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, as well as personalised medicine.

The emerging challenge is, therefore, how to use the data from these systems and initiatives to enhance the delivery and outcomes of frontline services and patient care. Let’s look at some of the areas in which data-driven healthcare is transforming patient care.

1. New research opportunities

Digital healthcare makes it possible to collect and combine big datasets to create new research opportunities. Collected data includes DNA, proteins, metabolites, tissues, cells, organs, etc. Combining this wealth of data with new machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies makes it possible to capture new insights and explore new research opportunities to improve treatment and identify new treatment options. In the long term, it is hoped that the resulting breakthroughs will lead to better patient outcomes.

2. Improved diagnoses

The power of data is also being felt in the field of medical imaging. AI-powered algorithms can analyse medical images such as X-rays, MRI and CT scans with remarkable precision. This can help to speed up diagnostics and reduce error, leading to improved patient outcomes.

3. Administrative efficiency

Data-driven solutions are helping to improve many aspects of healthcare administration, streamlining effort and optimising and automating processes, including with the aid of AI. In this way, by releasing cost from the back office, money and resources can be released to frontline care. Ultimately, this will lead to improved patient care and improved patient outcomes.

4. Data-driven strategic planning

By analysing health needs, treatment and outcomes among different demographic groups, data-driven healthcare analysis can inform strategic planning, directing resources to where they are needed most and can have the best impact. This data can come from for example Electronic Health Records, or now with advances of AI and Machine Learning (ML) it can be curated from real world feedback from Patients and Health Care Professionals. Patients talk to each other, and they talk to their Doctors online. There has been a phenomenal growth in the volume of online conversations about medicines and health, driven in part by the pandemic with systematic changes as healthcare moved online. This data is unstructured and difficult to decode, however, using AI and ML to curate and classify the information unlocks valuable clues about the real treatment journey that patients experience. This has significant value to the healthcare system in understanding and addressing the $250Bn gap in adherence where medicines are prescribed but not taken by patients.

#5. Patient monitoring

Dedicated healthcare devices and wearables collect information about individual patient datapoints. As well as alerting the patient and their medical team to immediate changes in metrics outside desirable parameters, this data is also being used in predictive models. Algorithms are used to identify early warning signs and
indicators of potential problems and possible treatments.

The scope of this is predictive work is remarkably extensive. For example, one study in the mental healthcare space monitored data about patient’s smartphone usage. The resulting algorithms were 100 percent effective in identifying teens who were likely to psychosis. In this way, data is being used to facilitate timely interventions for which the needs might otherwise not been identified.

#6. Improved collaboration

Patient data has a very immediate benefit in aiding collaboration between healthcare partners and providers. The ease with which electronic patient records can be shared across different healthcare disciplines and providers (including tele-medicine providers) helps to deliver more efficient and joined-up patient care.

#7. Personalised medicine

It is hoped that improved, comprehensive records combined with AI-powered predictive medicine will enable personalised prevention and treatment plans, tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup and medical history and diagnosis. The expectation is that this will lead to more effective treatments with fewer side effects. Ultimately the individual would receive the right drug, at the right dosage at the right time to improve patient outcome and ultimately quality of life.

#8. View of the lifetime healthcare journey

From a patient care perspective, the ultimate data-driven healthcare vision is to create a single view of all aspects of a person's lifetime journey to which advanced personalisation of treatment plans and predictive analysis can be applied to optimise that person’s health and healthcare experience.

Harvard Business Review states, “By 2030, healthcare organisations will be data businesses. Their jobs will be to collect and interpret data from all kinds of locations, from the patient’s home to the devices they wear, and they’ll be integrating and interpreting all of the data around a patient’s lifetime journey… But you can’t do this
alone. You need an urgency to change, a guiding coalition and you need a senior vision. That’s what will take us into the future.”

How is data-driven healthcare impacting patient care?

Data-driven healthcare is already impacting many aspects of patient care – and the potential for even greater improvements is huge. There can be no doubt that we are at an exciting moment in the evolution of patient care.

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