Technology's Impact on Patient Data
By Ryan Ayers
Technology has influenced changes in many industries, but none more than healthcare. Some of the latest healthcare technologies alter the equipment and procedures used within the caregiving process, as well as expand patient data collection by improving the quality and quantity of patient information. Technology has also advanced how healthcare professionals collect, analyze and respond to performance measures in order to correct problems in the healthcare sector.
Quantity of Data
Healthcare professionals collect data across many different categories including patient details, machine-generated statistics, medical imaging, pharmacy and insurance information. The data collected by healthcare organizations is stored in several different files such as disease registries, personal medical records and electronic health records. Reports state that the healthcare system in the United States generated up to 150 exabytes of data in 2011 and the amount of data increases as the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) rises.
Quality of Data
With the implementation of cloud-based storage, healthcare facilities can access data in real time, but the quality of their data is largely dependent on how it was collected. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has been implementing standards for data content and documentation as well as quality improvement strategies within the healthcare industry. These characteristics are some of the guide standards for quality data: precision, timeliness, consistency, comprehensiveness, accuracy and relevancy.
In 2015, 86.9 percent of doctors had adopted electronic health care record systems. An electronic health record is a patient's digital health chart which is obtained at point of care and consists of specific clear data. It can be updated directly on a computer, tablet or mobile device after a visit and the information can be shared with authorized users. According to a hospital study, facilities that had higher levels of EHR adoption were associated with fewer incidences of prolonged length of stay and lower rates of seven-day re-hospitalization. These findings support the promising role of EHRs in improving patient outcomes.
Data can be collected from wearable devices, mobile health apps, EHR and health surveys. With a majority of the population owning smartphones, users are spending 90 percent of their time on their devices using apps including health and fitness. These health apps and wearables are creating new data that physicians have never had access to before which they are able to easily bring to point of care appointments. This allows healthcare providers to monitor their patients remotely, help identify problems early and watch the progress of treatments. Mobile technology is giving people the tools to increase their engagement in their own health and lifestyle management. As mobile technology improves the healthcare applications will also improve. Patients and providers will be able to exchange information more efficiently and ensure patients get the most effective care.
Analyzing and Interpreting
Enterprise data warehouses (EDW) have helped health practitioners collect and analyze data from multiple sources in a single, integrated data repository. Data analysts use the following process when handling information: data capture, data provisioning and data analysis. Data provisioning moves the information from transactional systems to the EDW. Here the data is used to build visualizations for use by clinicians. Data analysis interprets the data and evaluates its quality. Then new information is discovered in the data. Data capture acquires key data elements, assures the data quality and integrates the information into operational workflow.
Due to the popularity of data collection tools, technology companies that provide patient data products and services are growing rapidly. Mobile health tools help healthcare providers easily send and receive information and documents. The mobile health market is expected to be worth $20.7 billion by 2019. Health portals are being created for patients to access their medical records and communicate with their providers. This technology has been shown to reduce visit volumes and the market is likely to reach $2.74 billion by 2020. Telehealth uses electronic information along with telecommunications technology to create remote healthcare options, health-conscious learning and other nonclinical services. This market is expected to see the highest growth with its worth reaching $34.27 billion by 2020.
Technological innovation continues to transform the way healthcare organizations are handling data. A variety of devices and systems are being used to boost the productivity and efficiency of healthcare organizations as well as improve the quality of patient care.