A Day Without Data in Healthcare: Empowering Physicians and Patients Alike

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From modern transportation to financial networks, we rely on digital data everyday whether it be at work, school, or play. And now, more than ever, this data needs to be carefully managed across different “boundaries,” without losing control. Considering how tightly integrated data is in our lives today, how did we ever get by without it?

 

Over the next few weeks, this blog series will examine the important role data plays in various industries and the impact of going a day without data… 

 

Data Driven Diagnosis

Over the past 25 years, information technology and data have transformed the healthcare industry in some pretty amazing ways. Electronic health records (EHRs) and data sharing technologies alone have completely changed how doctors see, diagnose, and treat patients. 

 

Today, almost 80 percent of office-based and almost 60 percent of hospital-based physicians now employ EHR systems.  EHR systems have essentially become the roots within the industry; interconnecting physicians, patients, researchers, and healthcare facilities across the globe; ultimately leading to quicker and more effective diagnosis, research and treatment.

So the question that arises: if you take away access to patients’ EHRs / digital data - even for one day; what happens?

 

Code Red

Short answer – yes, the industry would be facing a full blown Code Red.  EHRs and the ability to share data have affected the entire continuum of care – from the initial point of care to long-term treatments. Without it, the efficacy of care would be at risk, jeopardizing patient safety.

 

For example, in emergency situations, minutes can sometimes be the difference between life and death. Without access to patient data at the initial point of care, the time it takes to diagnose and treat a patient increases dramatically. Without access to vital information – medical history, blood type, allergies to medication, etc. – healthcare providers’ ability to make decisions quickly goes down, while the opportunity for misdiagnosis and errors goes up.

 

Even for patients who aren’t facing a life threating situation, without EHRs, the amount of time to check-in and be processed by hospital staff increases.  Additionally, since EHRs enable physicians to treat more patients, more quickly, no patient data would mean longer wait-times for people awaiting elective procedures as the time it takes to treat a patient goes up.

 

Treatment Options

The value of EHRs – and healthcare technology in general – isn’t tied solely to helping patients at the initial point of care or in emergency situations.  EHRs and information sharing technologies have drastically changed the nature of long-term care and treatment.

 

Evidence Based Medicine is the practice of optimizing decision-making and treatment options through evidence and well-designed research.  Basically, real-time patient data and feedback is enabling physicians to customize treatment options on the fly, leading to more successful outcomes.  

 

A big driver for this type of practice is the patient and physicians’ ability to connect with the wider medical community. By tapping the collective knowledge of specialists, researchers, etc., the success rates for treatment options goes up. 

 

However, without patient data and efficient systems to share it, this type of practice wouldn’t exist. Treatment options would be limited to the resources within the healthcare facility or region.

 

Empowering the Healthcare industry

At the end of the day, modern healthcare would not exist without patient data. Over the course of the last 25 years, data has made physicians and patients alike smarter and healthier. Access to patient data and better healthcare go hand-in-hand – if one goes, the other one suffers.