How Integrated Data and Technology Affect The Healthcare Ecosystem
UST Global Healthcare Contributed Article
INTEGRATED DATA AND TECHNOLOGY HAVE VARIOUS EFFECTS ON EACH OF THE CONSTITUENTS OF THE HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM, INCLUDING NOT ONLY PROVIDERS AND PAYERS, BUT ALSO THE PHARMACEUTICALS AND LIFE SCIENCES, WELLNESS, AND MEDICAL DEVICE SEGMENTS OF THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY.
Providers. Healthcare providers are now required to produce and share information to achieve meaningful use incentive payments, and the government has tied payment levels to proof that patients understand and are adhering to their treatment plans. Electronic health records (EHRs), which contain details regarding all instances of care across locations—including physician notes, test results, and X-ray images—help providers and payers keep patients informed. Because all the patient’s medications across pharmacies appear here, big data could aggregate this information to yield population-level insight to refine dosage standards—and improve adherence—for individual consumers.
Payers. Payers today have greater access to all claims across health insurers, enabling them to more fully understand the needs and motivations of individual patients and specific age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” Preventing these conditions will require understanding patients’ contexts and motivations, and should translate into focused interventions, including financial incentives that can drive behavioral and lifestyle changes.
Pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Technology and data will enhance access to clinical research trials and apply those results to change treatment plans. Here, data will help the healthcare ecosystem capitalize on scientific studies by translating drugs tested in the artificial realm of controlled studies to the real world, where the genetic and social diversity of patients is significant. Again, context is critical. Treatments must fit in with consumers’ complex lives and account for differing resources, interacting illnesses, and co-morbidities.
Wellness. The Wellness segment of the ecosystem includes patients’ self-reported data, garnering knowledge from social media posts and social intelligence and combining it with harder information from mobile monitors and telehealth metrics. This segment is where “personal health records” (PHRs) come into play: As defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, “[PHRs] contain the same types of information as EHRs—diagnoses, medications, immunizations, family medical histories, and provider contact information—but are designed to be set up, accessed, and managed by patients.” Programs such as the iPhone’s “Health” app, for instance, invite consumers to manage health as they do their financial assets; for the younger set, a Nintendo game lets children with diabetes play a game wherein compliance with their treatment regimen upgrades their avatar.
Medical devices. Medical devices are crucial to this paradigm shift, given that device connectivity and interoperability are key to a fully contextualized EHR. Government regulation has great influence here; for example, stage 3 of meaningful use, as established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, demands interoperability from medical technology.