Over the last few years, the importance of data collection in healthcare has been thrown into sharp relief. But why is it important, what benefits can it deliver, how can data be collected effectively and what challenges remain when it comes to collecting it?
It does not matter what business you operate in; today’s customers expect services, solutions and processes tailored to meet their specific needs. Spotify has personal playlists, streamers such as Netflix and MAX have personal watchlists and YouTube’s algorithm runs with personalization in mind. Even big data analytics in banking enables any bank to personalize their services to their customers.
If you work in healthcare these examples may seem irrelevant to you – but they are not. All these services run on the concept of personalization and have led to your patients expecting the same level of personalization from you, that they receive from Netflix or YouTube.
Data is how you achieve the personalization your patients crave and implementing proper data science services is how you get it – often through healthcare software development outsourcing. The importance of data in healthcare cannot be overstated as it is the key to increasing your patient satisfaction scores across the board. However, it is important to note here that data has many other uses in healthcare other than making your customers happy.
Why is data important in healthcare?
When it comes to what data can do in healthcare and the importance of it in this field, personalization is just the tip of a very large iceberg that goes a lot deeper than it appears. For example, you may think of patient data when you hear the phrase “data in healthcare.” This, of course, denotes information gleaned from the patients themselves, which helps doctors and nurses decide how to treat them.
However, it also extends to the creation of the very drug that might be administered to that same patient to ensure they get better. In today’s world, data drives healthcare at all levels. From the patient in their hospital bed, to the administrator running the hospital, it even extends to the deployment patterns of ambulances in local areas.
In short, data is used in healthcare to best meet the needs of patients, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies so that the best result can be achieved at all levels. This in turn, improves efficiency across the board and significantly reduces costs by enabling hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to identify problem areas and eliminate them. It also predicts market trends, helps healthcare providers understand customer behavior and find new customers and significantly improves decision-making processes.
Data collection methods
The importance of data in healthcare, and the many roles it can play is clear – but how is it collected? Obviously, one of the best ways to collect patient data is to review their medical records, ask them how they’re doing, feeling etc., observing their behavior, or carrying out medical tests on them to try and discover what they might be dealing with.
But what if they can’t respond or perhaps are too young to clearly articulate answers to these questions? Then family members or loved ones are a good source of data. Feedback forms are also good for gathering data from patients and loved ones, both during and after treatment.
All of this works great in a patient-doctor setting. But this blog already mentioned that data collection is also useful for hospital admins or big pharma companies. In these cases, direct access to the patient is probably not possible. So, what can they do to gather data?
Firstly, both more than likely would have access to patients’ medical records. But they could also monitor social media activity to learn more about patients, or if they don’t have time for this, they could also buy information on their patients from third parties.
With everyone online 24/7, the good news for healthcare providers is that there is no shortage of avenues to pursue when it comes to learning more about their customers and using information gained to further improve their own services. But do not be fooled. Every avenue has its own unique challenges that need to be overcome if healthcare providers both inside and outside the hospital want to offer the best services possible.
Healthcare data storage challenges
The first challenge is often easy to overlook and is not even related to the data itself. Rather, it concerns the person collecting, interpreting and processing the data your organization gathers. The challenge here quite simply is, do they know how to interpret the data properly?
This is something that needs to be addressed before anything else, as poorly interpreted data will lead to worse results for the patient or the hospital. But it is arguably even more important in pharma companies where the poor interpretation of data could lead to the production of dangerous medications – which could lead to litigation.
Another challenge that needs to be overcome as regards the processing and storing of data is the need to adhere to data privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Failure to do this will lead to fines and possible legal action by those affected by a data breach. But the most important thing to remember with laws like this is that they apply to the regions’ citizens – not where the company operates. Therefore, if a healthcare provider possesses the medical information of any EU citizen, then the GDPR applies – regardless of where the company is based.
And all of this is to say nothing of how expensive and time-consuming it can be to gather data that is both accurate and relevant to whatever your organization is doing. What’s more, this also applies if automation is added to this process. Automation can save you time and money, but it does not negate the fact that data collection is often more costly and time consuming than most organizations believe – which is doubly true for any scientific testing carried out by any of the big pharma companies.
However, while these challenges might be difficult to overcome, the importance of data in healthcare showcased through the benefits that have already been outlined in this article, make overcoming them worth it in the long run.
The importance of data in healthcare
Recent events have shown the importance of the healthcare sector in our daily lives and the crucial role data plays in driving it forward. Whether through innovation, increased customer satisfaction scores, improved efficiency, or significantly improving decision-making across the board, data has now become the beating heart of the healthcare sector.
However, challenges remain, and while many have been well publicized such as the expectation of adhering to GDPR, regardless of where a company is based, others are a little less obvious such as the need to ensure the person in charge of your data interpretation knows how to get the best out of your data.
All of this can lead to many unanswered questions when it comes to how your organization can leverage its own data to get ahead of the curve. Experts at Software Mind understand this, which is why our proven data services team is happy to talk about what you can do with your data, wherever you are.
About the authorSoftware Mind
Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world.