Business

Importance of Data Collection in Healthcare

Inez Bartosińska

The healthcare industry is constantly developing and moving on to technological advancements. Think about collecting healthcare data. Even though doctors always recognized its importance, they could never be as efficient at this task as they are today. You would be surprised at how many levels big data collection is beneficial for healthcare. For example, data brings significant improvements in ER treatment. According to statistics, the length of stay was reduced by 40%, and the effectiveness was enhanced by 50%. The amount of data generated today, however, may outbalance today’s technology capabilities. In this article, we want to discuss why healthcare data collection is instrumental for the whole healthcare industry and see what challenges stay in its way. 

What is healthcare data collection?

Collecting healthcare data is the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health information. Data is essential for action planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice. Data is beneficial for doctors or analysts who study statistics or attempt to discover more effective treatments.

The collected data is usually divided according to the examined population’s demographic, socio-economic, or clinical characteristics. Data on the treatment results, disease complications, comorbid diseases, mortality, or the effect of individual drugs on the patient’s condition are also very important.

There are different methods of collecting data. You can collect it from questionnaires and forms filled in by patients, transactions, system logs, texts, social media, clickstream data, videos, and images. You could even gather the data straight from the sensors that patients wear on their bodies to monitor their real-time condition on an ongoing basis. Collecting such broadly understood information allows for better treatment adjustment, enhanced awareness of the patient’s condition or treatment effectiveness, and faster reactions in emergencies.

How is data used in healthcare?

It is extremely important to stay current in the healthcare industry, and normally, to achieve that, an extensive database is needed. It is what provides seamless access to essential information about patients, their condition, and their treatment. The big amount of data is very helpful in making the right decisions and achieving better results. In some cases, it might even be the key factor in life and death situations. 

The data collected from various sources supports effective communication between doctors and patients and increases the overall patient experience within medical services. The quickly developing healthcare industry combines big data with technologies such as AI, IoT, machine learning, and computer vision. This way, medical facilities can derive the best profit from all these solutions and achieve even better results than if they used only one of them. 

Medical data collection allows doctors to understand their patients’ conditions better and provide more accurate treatment. A vast number of sources from which data is obtained allows for quick diagnosis of the disease and selecting appropriate drugs. The data is thoroughly analyzed and, therefore, can form regular patterns. The more information collected about as many patients as possible, the greater the certainty of whether the methods used will be effective or not. A wide variety of information can be shared with third-party providers. 

As a result, patients are provided with faster and more convenient services. In some cases, a patient can manage all his medical activity with just one app. The application gives him access to his entire medical history, prescriptions, or referrals to specialists. He can also make appointments and quickly inform medical staff when something is happening to him. By collecting all this data in one place, medical centers save time and work much more productively.

Why is data collection important in healthcare?

Among many reasons why data collection is so important in the healthcare industry, the main goal is to have a foundation for research purposes. Thus, you can understand the complete picture of the examined area as well as improve decision-making. Those targets then boil down to two categories: marketing and prevention strategies. 

Healthcare, like every other industry, needs to sell its products and services effectively. To achieve this, it is necessary to know the target audience and customize marketing gimmicks to their specific requirements. Data collection can help you understand better what your customers need and improve sales. You have a chance to know everything about people (their age, gender, location, medical records, personal preferences, etc.) that might be interested in your services. Thus, you get to build audience profiles, tailor your offers, turn potential clients into loyal customers, save money, and increase ROI. 

Another important reason to collect data in healthcare is preventive actions. Accurate information can be beneficial for something more than sales. Timely and precise data can help you create prevention strategies. For instance, you could monitor patients’ health conditions and provide adequate treatment in no time. The early reaction can save the patient’s health or life. Also, you could control the equipment and replace it before it gets broken and hurts someone. Finally, big data is helpful in online traffic tracking. Thus, you can look for alternative routes and prevent drivers from getting stuck or meet with an accident. 

What are the benefits of data collection in healthcare?

There are quite a few significant benefits of collecting data in healthcare:

Improved Medical Services 

Softwares that collect real-time data straight from the source, such as Electronic Health Record systems, provide information on patient’s health. When, as a doctor, you have seamless access to a patient’s test results, current treatment, his condition, prescripted medicine, and more, you can learn about the situation and give an accurate diagnosis very quickly or prevent the disease entirely. 

Improved Decision Making

With a wide range of various data collected in one place, it is possible to evaluate results effectively, create specific patterns, and most importantly, have a much broader view of the whole situation. With such thorough research and analytical tools, doctors can make decisions based on facts. Thus, they strategize quickly and adequately to the current conditions. 

Costs Reduction

As McKinsey’s study revealed, the efficient use of big data can save the healthcare U.S. industry even $300 billion. Thanks to technology, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities can manage their patients’ treatments quickly and effectively. There is often no need to set a F2F consultation as it can happen over a call or video chat. The patient’s stay in a hospital was reduced too, and as with complex data available, doctors get to know better what treatment they should apply. 

Storage of all data in one database

Many healthcare facilities still store their data in different places. Keeping all the information in common databases makes it much easier to access it on a personal and governmental level. A comprehensive system will allow all medical participants to boost the healthcare industry’s development and save many lives. 

Population Health Control

One of the benefits of data collection in the medical industry is a chance to prevent epidemics. For instance, if a patient in some place gets sick and his symptoms are unusual, it is easy to verify other people with a similar condition in the area. With a shared database, doctors can notice risk factors and take preventive measures quickly. 

Healthcare data storage challenges

Even though data storage brings many advantages, it’s not without a flaw. 

Poor Data Quality

Unfortunately, collecting a large amount of data, although very useful, is not enough. You also have to take care of constant database updates, and still, many medical institutions neglect this aspect.

Despite reliable systems, mistakes can also occur. Thus, doctors must always stay alert while, for example, they order a treatment.

Data Security 

Data security is a concern of every industry. Data leaks and theft are also hazardous in healthcare. One stolen laptop can contain encrypted data worth up to $ 1.8 million. Healthcare providers should keep track of digital security tools and ensure proper software installations. A good solution to that problem could be cloud-based platforms. 

Difficulties in Collaboration

Every employee of medical personnel has different methods for entering data about patients and their condition. Some use EDW, and others rely on traditional Excel spreadsheets. Even the method of recording, or the level of privacy, may significantly differ depending on the person who registers this information. This can make collaboration difficult, especially when it is done virtually.

Summary

The healthcare sector shows how important it is to use big data to track patients’ health and invent improved treatment methods effectively. The development of data collection in medicine is an effect of the need to solve problems: individual, local and global, such as a pandemic. 

Thanks to the collected data, healthcare can provide a holistic approach to patients, tailored treatment methods, and improved communication between doctors and patients. Despite several obstacles to this whole process, data collection will remain important to healthcare, and we will observe as new and better solutions emerge.

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