By Bipin Thomas
The importance of data in delivering efficient, effective health care has long been obvious, and has never been greater.
The increased focus on value-based care is shifting financial incentives to a model in which providers are compensated based on how their patients fare, rather than by the number of tests, visits or procedures performed. This means that providers, patients and everyone in-between are more eager than ever to measure patient outcomes in order to determine what works and who gets paid.
In striving to improve outcomes and reduce costs, health care providers have long struggled with several nagging problems — most notably, their interactions with their patients are sporadic, giving them little insight into the daily decisions and activities that have a huge impact on patient health. Providers could be much more effective in supporting their patients’ health if it was easy, or even automatic, for information and feedback to flow between patients, providers and caregivers. Fortunately, new technology is making that increasingly possible.
Where data about consumers have been critical to the transformation in retail, in health care the key is patient-generated data, defined as health-related data created, recorded, gathered or inferred by or from patients or their designees to help address a health concern. It includes patient-reported outcomes, medical-device data and wearables data, in addition to the application of consumer-generated data in a health care setting.
Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies
IoT has the potential to reinvent the health care industry. It has the potential to transform traditional paper-based health care treatment through access to real-time patient data and remote patient monitoring. The emergence of this digital health care (mobile health, wireless health, connected health, etc.) technology has delivered solutions to tackle the increasing need for better diagnostics and more personalized therapeutic tools. The IoT plays a significant role in a broad range of health care applications, from managing chronic diseases to preventing disease, but it also works as a fitness and wellness tracker for athletes.
The health care industry has been overhauled by the digitalization of data and the incredible deployment of IoT technologies and apps to enable access to data anywhere and at any time. The new breed of patient data is increasingly generated by IoT technologies and associated business processes that offer the ability to track activities, identify choices, evaluate outcomes and act in circumstances that were previously effectively beyond reach and influence.
Applications of patient-generated data
The entire health care ecosystem has been evolving with IoT-based technology platforms. IoT enables consumer-centric care from an integrated set of services from the providers, payers, medical device manufacturers and life sciences companies. All these entities in the health care value chain are shifting from a product-centric view to a patient view. The patient is in the middle of it all, no longer the product. IoT plays a pivotal role in bringing patient data and the care team together to improve patient engagement across the continuum of care.
As patient-generated data use increases, three areas in particular offer a growing evidence base for value in improving health outcomes, reducing cost and expanding access to care.
1. Chronic-disease management and home care: Continuous data streams from patients’ devices to optimally manage narrow sets of known health issues, such as diabetes, measuring potentially concerning deviations from normal parameters.
2. Short-term care planning: Event-specific data for a finite time period, or epoch of care, to customize care and support compliance to treatment regimens through education, feedback, reminders and monitoring.
3. Population-based evidence creation: High volumes of data to better understand how certain determinants of health affect patient populations and inform treatment guidelines.
The way forward
The use of patient-generated data presents an opportunity for cost savings, health outcome improvements and patient engagement by partnering with patients in many aspects of their health. The challenges for health care organizations are substantial but surmountable. As health care evolves toward outcome-focused care, patient-generated data can allow providers to deliver care tailored to individual patients, transforming the way care is delivered from sporadic, minimal interactions over large spans of time to a more patient-centered and ongoing relationship between patients and their providers, allowing patients to not only live longer, but thrive.
About the author: Bipin Thomas is a renowned thought leader on consumer-centric health care transformation. Thomas is a board member of HealthCare Business News magazine. Thomas is a senior executive at Flex, where he is leading business innovation by deploying cross-industry solutions with intelligent products and connecting key industry stakeholders. Thomas is a former senior executive at Accenture and UST Global, where he implemented strategic digital initiatives across the care continuum.