Leveraging Healthcare Data for Better Patient Care

When the pandemic shook the very foundation of healthcare systems, several hospitals became unavailable at a time when they were most needed. It was a cultural shock for the industry to have to function remotely and provide healthcare as a virtual service. While the new normal evolved, healthcare practitioners and patients soon adapted to the use of technology – from telemedicine and virtual consultations, to centralized healthcare information storage, digital payments, and so on – all of which is now leading the way to a new era in healthcare services.

Although the pandemic has accelerated healthcare transformation, other important drivers have been the increasing demands for personalized care and better patient engagement, the need for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) for collaborative innovation, etc.

The Challenges in Healthcare Data Management

With the healthcare industry shifting towards value-based care with more focus on the patient, immersive experiences have increased patient data several-fold. The rate at which healthcare data is generated at various touch points is growing exponentially. As the amount of data accumulated increases, it has become evident that a robust data management strategy is imperative to manage data and leverage it to generate actionable insights effectively to improve the holistic health of members and patients. Some of the main challenges in management of such data include:

  • The disparate healthcare landscape and operational silos
  • Rapid changes in healthcare data sources, types, volumes
  • Positioning EMR/EHRs to absorb the increasing changes in data
  • Stringent industry regulations on how data is handled
  • Unique challenges faced by providers, payers, patients
  • Need for more maturity in clinical and non-clinical data capture mechanisms

This blog discusses the rise of technology in the pandemic era and how AI/ML can leverage healthcare data and shape the delivery of services. 

The Changing Face of Patient Care

The pandemic has drastically reduced traditional hospital visits – in terms of direct care delivery to patients, technology has made more than 75% of primary care visits and chronic care visits virtual. This is likely to continue even after the pandemic ends. Technology companies have embraced the new expectations and are focused on building large platforms with language translators, voice or emotion recognizers for more meaningful and positive interactions that help both patients and providers. Some of the promising roles of technology in healthcare and patient care include:

  • Auto diagnosis of health issues based on data and images uploaded by patient 
  • Telemedicine facility that has improved convenience without any logistical issues  
  • Consolidated patient records that help doctors measure and track patient progress effectively 

The Role of AI/ML 

Before the pandemic shook the global healthcare industry, the industry had a lot of high touch points as patient care meant physical examination and direct face time with doctors. However, the pandemic has changed the mindset of patients and doctors. A cultural shift in how healthcare is perceived and consumed has come about. Decoding the pandemic reveals two crucial aspects — continuous improvement and virtual engagement are imperative to sustain the industry in this digital era. 

As the industry takes a data-centric approach to offering services, there is also a growing need for human collaboration. Although Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are leading the way in several critical areas of healthcare, human intervention is critical for building trust and continued success. It is observed that the healthcare industry is currently moving towards: 

  • Data-centric approaches with a focus on knowledge discovery
  • Human AI collaboration that redefines the future of work through NLP
  • Building trust with patients through informed consent
  • Improved security against data breaches, legal compliance
  • The growth of Explainable AI
  • Tight partnerships between healthcare providers, innovators, and disruptors
  • Shared public data sets and environments, open-source software libraries and tool kits 

Blockchain in Healthcare

Unlike other industries, data sharing between hospitals/providers needs to be independent of competition or business agendas. All systems involved in the care of the patient will need to share their patient data for more co-ordinated care, but of course, within the confines of patient consent. Consequently, companies are promoting Blockchain for healthcare interoperability in a decentralized manner. Broadly, Blockchain can be used to:

  • Manage EMR/EHR data
  • Manage point-of-care genomics
  • Manage personal health data
  • Protect healthcare data

While interoperability gives healthcare providers the ability to view and access data across various systems, several governance mechanisms, standards, and data quality have been introduced, particularly in the USA and Europe. It is important to note that patients have the right to deny sharing of their information with another hospital, provider, or for medical research. So, a decentralized way of data sharing with consent management makes Blockchain a very viable platform for healthcare data interoperability.

Without a doubt, Blockchain technology helps reduce complexities in patient consent management and secure data sharing, improves collaboration, creates immutable information, and integrates healthcare information scattered across service providers. As EHR becomes the norm, Blockchain can help healthcare providers move beyond face-to-face or verbal communication and enable the integration of data from personal medical devices, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), etc. with the centralized EHR. Cloud service providers such as Microsoft, AWS, IBM play a crucial role in facilitating data collection. These leading industry players offer a variety of APIs that help connect to wearables and other IoMT devices for patient data collection. 

Future of Healthcare and Healthcare Providers

Having discussed the growing use of technology and the consequent growth of data in healthcare, it is evident that: 

  • AI and ML will help automate mundane, routine tasks to reduce human intervention
  • Patient care services such as telemedicine will continue to grow due to the flexibility they provide
  • Wearable IoT when integrated with EHR, and the mobility enabled by centralized cloud apps will greatly improve services
  • Predictive analytics on historical data and patient health records will promote proactive healthcare
  • Deep learning capabilities can be used for screening and medical diagnosis 

The possibilities with AI/ML and well managed healthcare data for the betterment of healthcare are limitless. Long 80 extensively leverages AI/ML, Automation, Big Data, and Cloud technologies to accelerate healthcare digital transformation. To learn more about our offerings, please visit https://www.long-80.com

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