In today’s connected society, data is king. In nearly every industry, volumes of data are collected and used to drive business decisions and customer relationships.  Healthcare is no different.  New models for delivering care and managing patient outcomes are dependent on an influx of data to help physicians and patients collectively reach desired outcomes.  Those outcomes may include faster recovery, better management of chronic conditions, or simply providing a more comfortable environment for patients.  But, in addition to clinical care data (information that comes directly from visits for physicians offices, hospitals, clinics, etc.), healthcare providers can benefit from many patient-specific and general data sources beyond the walls of their facilities.  The more data providers are able to harness, the more effectively they will be able to treat individual patients, manage population health initiatives, and support new value-based care models.

Naturally, data that is created through direct interactions with physicians – whether that’s visiting a healthcare facility or through virtual visits using connected health platforms – is critical to effective care.   But there is a second, very significant data source that can play a key role in monitoring and managing health conditions — Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD).

Connected health devices and apps

Connected devices and apps have already had a positive impact in many sectors, including energy, security, and transportation.  Wearable devices and other connected devices are able to measure and monitor health characteristics (heart rate, activity levels, stress, weight, etc.) and transmit that data in real time to connected health platforms, reducing administrative work while increasing the efficiency and frequency of data collection.  Similarly, smartphone apps and patient portals can be used to manually submit information at predefined intervals and be appended to patient records.  And of course, many medical devices have been integrated with sensors and network connectivity:  glucose monitors, scales, blood pressure monitors, oxygen sensors, and much more.

Electronic Health Records

EHRs provide a holistic view into patients’ overall health beyond activity with an individual physician or clinic.  The information can be used by different providers and practitioners to gain insight into patients’ overall health characteristics, activity, treatments, and other variables over time to identify best treatment plans for different conditions.

Socioeconomic data

There is a wealth of data outside the healthcare environment that can play a key role in understanding health conditions and prescribing treatment.  Socioeconomic data – employment, education, access to resources, social status, housing, and other variables can play a role in patients’ physical and psychological health as well as lifestyles.  Social media activity can provide insight into patients’ health and activity patterns, mood, emotional state, and other factors influencing health and overall wellness.  While this data isn’t standardized like healthcare data is, understanding outside influences on patients can help determine treatment and consultations plans that are likely to have a higher rate of adherence.  For instance, a patient without access to a vehicle, but with reliable Internet access, might be a good candidate for virtual consultations to avoid the costs and stress of finding a way to get to physicians’ offices.

Genetic and population data

Wider genetic and population group data can have a twofold effect on healthcare.  It can help identify health trends related to specific population groups based on family, geography, jobs, heritage, or other traits.  Likewise, such analysis can help doctors identify patients’ potential for specific conditions based on the different population groups to which they belong.  The ability to predict potential health related concerns can allow earlier detection and more effective treatment, or even preventative care, and can help increase overall population health.

The key to the effectiveness of these data sources is the ability to not only collect it, but to integrate it into patient EHRs, databases and analytics platforms to generate actionable intelligence.  Healthcare providers that have invested in PGHD are already seeing positive results:  73% say that have seen positive ROI, and 85% say that wearable devices, specifically, improve patient engagement and promote increased patient involvement in their wellness.  To learn more about how you can harness the data being generated to benefit your practice and your patients, visit us here.

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