We are on the precipice of a data tidal wave in healthcare. Exciting because it can transform lives. Concerning because our healthcare system is not built to deliver this promise.
We are on the precipice of a data tidal wave in healthcare. Exciting because it can transform lives. Concerning because our healthcare system is not built to deliver this promise. We are funneling data into an abyss of fragmented medical care. We will be left with fragmented data, hidden behind account logins of thousands of devices and healthcare organization accounts. Already today, patients and providers struggle to access lab work, imaging, medication, and a variety of tests and patient information. The struggle increases exponentially as our sources of data grow. Beyond the inconvenience, the scattered data prevents a comprehensive view of patient information. This makes data even more ineffective, results in second rate care and opens the door to preventable mistakes. We have reached the end of the line with a makeshift approach to care. To truly improve quality and reduce cost of medical care, we must embrace making data patient centered. With that as our source of truth, we can untangle this problem. We can truly unleash the transforming impact modern day medicine can have to change people’s lives. Below we’ve outlined some ideas on how this can work.
The landscape today
Fragmented healthcare today creates a great burden on patients and providers. They spend unnecessary time tracking down important, scattered medical data. X rays are in one account, their blood work another and their insurance information yet another. Still, medical device companies, EHR’s and medical organizations continue to view the sharing of patient data as a risk to their business rather than a way to improve care. The long term healthcare needs of patients are sacrificed for the short term need to meet quarterly and yearly goals. Silos are further reinforced and patient care becomes even more fragmented. The government is making efforts to force the sharing of information. Even if successful, the culture of using information for business rather than clinical purposes continues. This current landscape requires a completely new way of thinking.
Why this is a problem
This is a problem for two reasons.
First, siloed data points are not as valuable as data quickly and efficiently viewed altogether. For example, getting a view of someone’s blood pressure, blood sugar and abnormal EKG altogether is more helpful than just a blood pressure alone. It leads to better treatment recommendations.
Second, creating infrastructure necessary to tie together and manage fragmented, siloed data is costly and complex. It’s not the right way to build technology. It becomes vulnerable to breaking and security breaches. We would potentially spend more time and energy on this infrastructure than on actual patient care.
The path forward
The only way forward is to create structural change in the way we handle information. It is a massive change. It is a course correction that must be made now to move us out of the healthcare paralysis we live in. This change revolves around making data patient centered. Much like Netflix changed the landscape for how we watch things or Amazon for how we shop, there must be a change in how we deliver and consume information in healthcare.
Here's how we do this:
Samant Virk, MD, is a physician, trained in Neurology and Interventional Pain Management. After 15 years of practicing medicine, he stopped. The energy and commitment needed to appropriately care for his patients was not supported by the business side of healthcare that actually created obstacles for doctors to provide positive outcomes for their patients. He now invests his time and energy working on innovative ways to solve the problems he encountered and meet the needs of clinicians and their organizations to provide better care.