The amount of data the world created last year was exponentially larger than the year before. In fact, we are living in an era of unprecedented data collection and use. The healthcare landscape is no exception.
Data is becoming an increasingly essential part of how our healthcare system operates and, by all estimations, is here to stay.
Data’s prevalence is shaping the healthcare system in fundamental ways and will play a huge part in determining what healthcare will look like in the future.
The Use, Storage, and Prevalence of Healthcare Data is Skyrocketing
According to Grand View Research, the valuation of the United States healthcare analytics industry is expected to increase from $23.6 billion in 2020 to a staggering $129.7 billion in 2028.
A number of factors and characteristics propel data’s integration and use.
In addition, the accessibility and ubiquity of devices such as smartphones, iPads, and other digital devices make the collection and managing of digital data easier than ever before.
Making the healthcare industry more data-intensive in nature certainly comes with risks, unknowns, and problems.
However, because data-rich practices provide expansive benefits compared to previous ways of doing things, it will likely continue increasing in the application and widespread implementation.
Benefit: Increased Care Accuracy and Patient Care Quality
Data can make a huge difference in improving care provision accuracy and quality.
Utilizing patient data more effectively, making it more immediately available when care decisions are made and executed, and using computing tools or softwares to aid diagnosis and care plan design processes can significantly heighten the average level of care each patient receives.
It can also help the healthcare system lessen the significant number of misdiagnoses, care errors, avoidable mistakes, and losses it sustains every year.
Many of these occur when medical care providers don’t have access to the information they need and data would lessen that problem.
Data collection also allows for much more information to be gathered from patients themselves. This can be utilized to better understand an individual’s case and needs.
Self-reported data can be a hugely helpful tool for medical providers.
In today’s data-centered culture, a huge percentage of patients are able and willing to contribute to the data collection and application process to improve the results of their medical care.
Benefit: Better Research Processes and Outcomes
When data is more accessible than ever before, this creates strong advantages for medical research.
Having better tools for data collection can make new types of research possible, enhance research quality, and lessen the time required for completing new research.
This can speed the time in which research can create true change and benefits for the healthcare system at large.
Benefit: Better Staffing and Operational Procedures
Healthcare facilities like hospitals can employ hundreds or even thousands of people. They are highly complex organizations that face significant staffing challenges.
Data collection and application can provide a significant tool in improving that process. Keeping better track of individual staff tendencies, needs, and more can inform more strategic staffing decisions.
Monitoring employee morale and wellbeing can help management ensure that staff members are performing at their best and can quickly intervene or provide support when that is no longer the case.
Better staffing procedures can improve not only internal team performance and morale but can raise the quality of patient care and experience.
Harnessing more sophisticated data practices can also benefit medical facility operations as well. Data can help reduce wasted materials and resources.
It can help better manage available beds and patient placement within a facility, allowing for greater efficiency and optimization.
It can allow for better project management and more efficient implementation of initiatives. Data and analytics could be applied to virtually every part of a medical practice and provide benefits.
Technologies on the Horizon: AI, Machine Learning, Robotics, and More
Even standard capabilities of data analytics are still nowhere near being implemented to their full potential throughout the healthcare system.
And in the meantime, nascent technologies that are currently in earlier stages of development and exploration are quickly making their way onto the stage that could create even more widespread changes in healthcare.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an advanced technological means of enabling computers to make decisions, compute huge amounts of data, generate predictions, or analyze reports or images to contribute to making diagnoses or detecting medical needs.
AI software is already being used to detect instances of cancer from medical imaging scans, predict the onset of chronic illnesses, and more.
Machine learning, similar to AI, is software sophisticated enough to develop its decision-making or behavioral actions as it “learns” by encountering more information.
Machine learning systems can be used to mimic speech and perform simple administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and answering phones.
They also contribute functionality to other technological advancement areas such as robotic implementations.
Robotics wraps the above advances in computing capabilities and software in physical hardware. Robotic arms are already assisting in many types of surgeries.
In some instances, they provide enhanced abilities that not even the best surgeon could replicate.
Humanoid or human-sized robots are being used to interact with patients in waiting rooms, perform simple tasks such as welcoming patients and guiding them to their appointment room, and more.
Though more comprehensive data usage introduces necessary complications and difficulties, its possibilities are vast.
The increased application of data within healthcare systems is already creating significant benefits for medical professionals, patients, and more.
Sandra is a health blogger based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She loves being outdoors and exploring new places with her husband. She is a mom of two awesome kids and a dog named Luna!