Changes in policy, the alignment of incentives, and heavier adoption of data sharing protocols have influenced provider implementation of electronic health records (EHR). With increased financial risk-sharing, more fixed budgets and a focus on value-based care, it is critical to use data to address the social determinants of health.
Health information exchanges and population-level analytics have pushed organizations to collaborate to reach mutual goals within the community. As a result, data sources, infrastructure, and sharing have begun to align. EHRs are now common, allowing providers to collect data on large patient populations with unprecedented sharing of data, information, and knowledge.
In short, the healthcare industry is changing fast. Here are the major trends and topics you should know about.
There have been significant innovations to include social determinants of health in population assessments.
Neighborhood “walkability” scores are one example and have been linked to increased physical activity in communities. Public health organizations are partnering with government agencies with social services data to track areas of risk. They haven’t yet achieved the level of cooperation that is possible but are steadily working toward it. Communicable disease surveillance and management combined with spatial analytics have made advancements like real-time influenza surveillance possible.
mHealth, social media and visualizations are beginning to offer convenience to patients at the consumer level they’ve become accustomed to from other industries.
Telehealth is a great safety net for populations that can’t easily access transportation to get to a provider, including those in rural areas with limited options. It’s been proven that the quality of images on clinicians’ smartphones and tablets is as good as that of a full computer monitor. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created interactive visualizations to help with injury prevention in the US.
Issues of governance, ethics, and confidentiality have come to the forefront as providers strive for the ethical application of digital data for public health and population research.
Innovative uses of technology continue to evolve to avoid risk. For example, the use of unique identifiers like numbers instead of names and addresses can protect an individual’s privacy. Another practice called geo-masking keeps the precise location of care clusters hidden. This is a burgeoning field with new ideas to test all the time.
The sustainability of digital initiatives is more important than ever in a data driven healthcare environment.
Strategic partnerships within the community to achieve public and population health objectives using data are more important than ever. Providers require a population health improvement strategy with data at the forefront in order to stay competitive.
These advances in population health informatics clearly show that sourcing big data and making more sophisticated health IT tools available can empower communities and populations to take a more active role in their health with providers leading the way. Using these data sources to address social and other non-medical determinants of health will be essential to achieving greater health and well-being in our communities.
You may be wondering how to use data to improve patient health outcomes in your community while reducing costs. Our position as a data analytics provider in the Midwest has provided us with the opportunity to work with providers just like you, so we understand the challenges you face and the opportunities you have available. Contact us to find out how you can give your care delivery and population health program a major advantage with data.