Connected data: the thread in the needle for future health care

By David Irecki*
Friday, 07 May, 2021

Connected data: the thread in the needle for future health care

It’s fair to say there’s a general consensus in the healthcare sector that the strategic and innovative use of digital technologies is an essential enabling factor towards giving patients the exact care they need, the moment they need it.

If it wasn’t apparent before COVID-19, it’s blatantly obvious now — providers need digitally connected tools and processes to run sustainable health care. Fax machines simply don’t cut it anymore, and that’s why there’s no doubt the pandemic triggered proactive investment, with the global digital health market expected to exceed US$500 billion (~A$645 billion) by 2027.

Many technologies that have become commonplace — like the Internet of Things (IoT) — are now creating new types of patient experiences. For example, Juniper Aged Care in Western Australia is helping carers meet and treat patients from anywhere, with the ability to monitor health and deliver recommendations in real time, and address minor issues before they become major ones.

But it takes more than the latest flashy technologies and software applications to evolve the sector and deliver more proactive care — healthcare providers need to take the next step and capitalise on the opportunity to leverage data generated by these new technologies.

This initiative should be led with a data management strategy that focuses on extracting maximum business value from cohesive data, aiding the transition to human-centric care and driving better patient outcomes with a 360° view of the organisation.

Patching patient records

Collated from years of service and an ever-growing pool of paperwork, providers’ IT environments contain large amounts of accumulated data. This can include patient treatment plans and outcomes, laboratory results, insurance information and operational insights to support, for example, resource allocation in an industry prone to surge capacity and irregular staff hours.

Without the ability to securely share and communicate such data, organisations risk creating disparity in an environment where accurate, real-time information is critical.

That’s why healthcare professionals need to stitch together their core business applications and have a data strategy that ensures technology is part of the experience from the start.

Even as organisations ingest this data into enormous data lakes and ‘clouds’, much of it remains unknown. IDC reports as much as 68% of a company’s data goes untapped or wasted, indicating organisations are only capturing a third of what is happening in their business.

For the health industry, this creates a fork in the road to achieving better and more accurate care. Providers need data readiness, which allows them to trust the information and deliver superior care.

Threading systems for digital health

Data readiness needs to be about more than giving users access to quantities of patient data. It’s about gaining a unified view of patient care and providing confidence in the consistency of how that data is defined — the foundation of value-based care.

By automating processes and connecting core IT systems, hospitals and health providers can establish a personalised approach — having full visibility over patients and operational data to tailor their services to every stakeholder.

In one example, Australian aged-care provider Bolton Clarke hasn’t just deployed new technologies, such as IoT devices, but by first laying connected data foundations, resident information is centralised within one secure, easy-to-use interface and can be analysed by machine learning to enable tracking of customer wellbeing and safety around the clock.

Bolton Clarke is now in a better position to adapt to changing reporting requirements — it can trust that the data it uses to make decisions is accurate and up to date, making it easier to demonstrate compliance with industry and government regulations.

Pinning data for the bigger picture

Data underpins every step of digital initiatives and it is imperative organisations can make sure rules are followed when data is collected, moved, copied, analysed and shared, supporting the veracity of such projects where multiple stakeholders are involved.

Think of it from the perspective of the vaccine rollout — arguably the biggest societal challenge we’re facing today. From the genetic data used to develop vaccines, to the secure use of personal data to notify people when it is their turn to get the jab, the bridging of multiple data sources has been vital in the development, and will be crucial to the supply integrity of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Through the power of data integration, US-based biotech company Moderna was able to plug unified data from its drug research systems to help expedite the development of its coronavirus vaccine.

The biotech company has automated complex, cross-platform business transactions — like budgeting, vendor payments and human resources management — handing back productivity to the business as the world rolls up its sleeves.

While Moderna’s scale of impact is consequential, Australian healthcare organisations alike will benefit from extracting maximum business value from data that ensures quality care and enables new ways of working for the long term, while ensuring operational agility, visibility and accountability.

This is a time for healthcare communities to really think about their strategy for investing in digital services, and understand not just their operations, but the unique needs of their patients.

Such a strategy should prioritise data integration to enable workers — everyone from data scientists through to frontline staff — to collaboratively and quickly curate and share data, drawing relationships and building analytical models that create operational visibility and deepen patient understanding.

With the healthcare sector anticipated to increase its enterprise IT spend by 8.2% in 2021 to $3.2 billion, providers that capitalise their technology investments with a data management strategy that delivers granular intelligence will accelerate the transition toward more sustainable and proactive health care.

*David Irecki is the Director Solutions Consulting APJ at Boomi. He strategically consults companies across APAC, including Australia and New Zealand.

Top image credit: ©

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