The past, present, and future of healthcare: Three diverse perspectives
The future of healthcare belongs to all of us. Across healthcare, experts in research, technology, life sciences, and beyond are working to create a health system that better serves every person involved in the patient journey.
Although the goal is a more efficient, cost-effective, and connected system, healthcare leaders have different opinions on how we’ll get there. We sat down with three experts on patient care and healthcare data technology to discuss the future of healthcare.
This blog shares their thoughts on past practices that got us where we are today and what we need to do now to enter a new era of healthcare that benefits all.
Looking back: The importance of healthcare data during COVID-19
Healthcare data plays an integral role in everything from in-person treatment during a primary care encounter, to analytics within healthcare technology platforms, to monitoring the real-world impact of a new therapy. This happens across the industry every day but the role data played in advancing healthcare was especially important during the pandemic.
We asked our panelists what data achievements in healthcare have been most impressive in the last few years, and here’s what they said:
The sharing of data during the COVID-19 pandemic
The collaboration of pooling information and resources and coming together in real time to analyze and address a global health crisis was unmatched.
“We saw when we broke down [our usual] silos and freed up the data, how rapidly we were able to identify better ways of managing treatment… and that in liberating the data, no one lost – everybody gained.”– Thomas Abbott, Head of Real World Evidence, Astellas Pharma
mRNA vaccine development
For Dr. Paige Killian, Chief Medical Officer at Inovalon, mRNA vaccines take center stage for the most impressive development from the last few years, “They were developed to do exactly what they did – to allow a rapid implementation of a broad, enormous-scale vaccination.”
The rapid adoption of telehealth
Telehealth was not new, but it did become the norm for many types of care encounters during the pandemic. As Michal DePalma, Founder and CEO of Pensare, states, “Digital transformation had a role in everything. With telehealth, for example, you can drive down cost, you can increase efficacy. If you’re a provider, you can see more patients,” stressing the positive implications of digital innovations in the last few years. The rapid adoption of telehealth increased tenfold during the pandemic, opening up the world to new ways of delivering healthcare.
All panelists concurred the healthcare system runs better when everyone works together. During the pandemic, providers across the world were communicating openly about what they were seeing. Dr. Killian explained, “Networks evolved of physicians, nurses, and other personnel who were in the trenches battling this entity for the first time. That really drove the development of best practices and was awesome to see … also, resource-sharing internationally.” When it comes to collaboration, the pandemic showed the world just how successful healthcare can be if everyone works together towards a common goal.
Present day: Making impactful data and technology improvements
As the pandemic accelerated many advancements in healthcare, it also created a foundation on which to build upon for the future. Some present-day opportunities highlighted by our experts include:
- Refining data collection and application
- Adopting new data standards like the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model, and networks like EHDEN that enable more transparent data sharing and collaboration
- Making healthcare data more available to patients to empower them with a better experience
- Reducing the administrative burden on healthcare professionals to prevent burnout while enhancing the patient experience
Put simply, DePalma states, “Everything we’re saying really revolves around [the four] Cs: communication, collaboration, context, and consumerism.” Now is the time to take advantage of the momentum from recent years to further enhance what healthcare can be for providers, patients, researchers, and beyond.
Potential risks ahead: Data challenges to note
As we continue to shape what healthcare can be, new methods of data sharing and utilization will bring with them new challenges to consider.
Data usage and analysis education
As Dr. Killian stated, “Data transparency does have pitfalls. Immediate access is great in concept but there could be implications.”
For example, a patient who sees a scan result before their physician can consult them on what to do could leave the patient with more questions and concerns on their own than in the traditional flow of having a scan done, the physician sees results, and then the physician-patient encounter occurs.
As a solution, Dr. Killian offered, “There needs to be empowerment of the consumer (patient) to understand what to do – and there is a trust factor [that cannot be ignored]. Patients want someone they trust to tell them what the data means.” This all boils down to coordination, education, and advocacy.
Duplicate data collection
For Abbott, the risk of duplicate data is top of mind. He stated, “Part of breaking silos means aggregating data in a way that it can be meaningful and not collecting the same data multiple times.”
Additionally, he went on to explain how additional information can result in a change of course during treatment, almost like a GPS. You may know where you’re going, but it’s still helpful to know if there is an accident on your route or an easier route available. The same holds true when data is available and accessible in the background of focused, patient-centric care. Data is not here to replace the value of physician-patient conversations, but it can better inform which options are available and the best course of treatment.
The future of data: Faster insights for better outcomes
Between recent lessons of data exchange and technology advancements the past few years, and the present opportunities to leverage data and technology to create more interoperability and collaboration, the future of healthcare is bright.
Innovative technology informed by data is leading the way for newfound levels of interoperability and integration, which will create more meaningful decisions and interactions. Abbot said it best – “By liberating the data, you didn’t lose. Everybody gained.”
Leaders in research, analytics, technology, and treatment are recognizing the value of new data connections and they’ve started to prepare for potential challenges, too. Even though access to care is a still a problem, coordination needs training, patient education can improve, and so on, we have the power to solve for all these complex challenges – but it has to be our overarching goal, a part of everything we do across the industry.
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