How can Data Improve Healthcare?

Internet penetration and the increasing use of smart devices is enabling players in various industries to collect valuable data that they use to profile their customers and tailor service delivery. Retail and the banking industry are leading the way using data to comprehend important trends in the market thus boosting their performance. Banks use collected data from ATMs and smart devices to ensure they tailor specific services to specific clients and prevent fraud. Retailers use customer data to suggest products that customers may be interested in based on the pattern established by their buying habits. Proper data analytics and management improves an organization’s bottom line. The healthcare sector can improve service delivery and realize the potential that large volumes of data being generated from various applications and activities have.

Data can only be valuable depending on its quality. Physicians and IT professionals in the health sector need to work together to enhance the quality of generated data. Investing in data analytics is key. Insights derived from poor quality data can be catastrophic. Organizations need to invest in data analytics and data science. The data generated by various hospitals should also be shared to ensure pandemics are prevented from happening. Just like the banking industry where ATMs can be used by customers from different banks, hospitals can also ensure seamless exchange of data thus reduce unnecessary costs and prevent needless catastrophes.

Good quality data supports precision medicine ensuring that healthcare is customized and medical decisions are tailored for specific individual patients. Precision medicine ensures that preventive or therapeutic interventions are directed towards those who will benefit the most from such measures, therefore, reducing costs. It also reduces the chances of patients suffering from side effects of using certain interventions. Precision medicine allows doctors to predict more accurately the form of treatment that will work for a particular group of people based on their environment, genes, and lifestyles. Data in healthcare also enables the emergence of health learning systems. Establishing the right infrastructure through espousing technology and processes enables organizations to make more accurate predictions and identify areas that need improvement. Organizations can leverage on these insights to enhance preventive and therapeutic interventions and learn as they go.

Once systems that guarantee the quality of data are in place, organizations need to have support teams that will ensure efficiency and offer the necessary support required by various stakeholders and data users in the organizations. Support teams make it easier for data users to derive accurate insights and save on costs and time required to do the same using an alternative route.

Investing in data science and data analytics is critical and so is the investment in cybersecurity. Deriving insights from poor quality data can have detrimental consequences which can be fatal. Also, advancements in technology are equally countered by the sophistication of cyber breaches and the large volume of data being generated is constantly under threat. Organization need to understand how high the stakes are and ensure they have countermeasures that will guarantee the anonymity of patients and that their private information is secure.

  • Stuart Morgan

    I agree that the data need to be of good quality. However, data are no good unless we can turn the data into information. Medical ethics govern the use of clinical data. One of the issues about data in the health sector context is that clinical data need to be protected and used by the attending doctors and nurses, unless the data are anonymised. This is always a challenge that is rarely understood and acknowledged outside of the clinical arena. Public health specialists are best placed to lead on the gathering and use of health sector data collected from the clinical setting. However, other (non-clinical) data relating to hotel services and the management of health care facilities is much easier to collect and manage.

Leave a Comment

Rethinking-Africa's Urbinizationurban Agriculture