Health systems handle enormous amounts of data daily; by one estimate, about 30 percent of the world's data volume comes from the healthcare industry, and that's expected to grow over the next few years.
The future of healthcare will require better access to data than it has needed in the past. Data-driven insights and action are required as patient expectations evolve and reimbursement models shift.
For healthcare organizations to stay agile and meet patient demand, they'll need modern data platforms to face today's problems and plan for the future. If an organization doesn't have a solid modern data platform and the ability to use that data, it's steering a ship without direction, a destination, or even the knowledge to navigate.
Healthcare organizations need data to understand where they've been, what needs to improve and to forecast where they're going. A modern data platform involves modern modular technologies; hybrid cloud or cloud capabilities for scalability and flexibility; data governance; and updated approaches to managing data, such as a DataOps.
Recently, a healthcare organization reached out to me to discuss how it could modernize its approach to data and best manage its data needs across the organization. Turning to a modern data platform that can systematically pull in data from varied sources could help that organization break down silos and open insights across departments, from supply chain to clinical. All areas of a healthcare organization can benefit from an improved, agile and well-governed data platform from which data can be quickly and securely shared.
A significant driver for this change is the shift in healthcare from a fee-for-service reimbursement model toward value-based care. Insights and actions derived from data help clinicians understand whether their treatments improve a patient's health and provide a continuum of care rather than discrete, one-time services.
Another driver for change is the industrywide initiative to achieve the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Quadruple Aim, including improving clinician wellness. Data and analytics are meant to support and enhance clinicians' experiences, not hamper them.
So, when should a healthcare organization change to a modern data platform? Internal and external feedback can help guide the decision.
Internally, departments may already express dissatisfaction with their current data and analytics capabilities. Perhaps the emergency department cannot make quicker decisions because it lacks real-time insights into bed capacity.
Externally, an organization can reach out for third-party input from technology experts and consultants to assess its current ecosystem and make recommendations based on the organization's hopes to achieve.
Healthcare systems don't have to reinvent the wheel; they can learn from the experiences of other providers, other industries, or expert partners. Progress has been made over the past several years that lays out a blueprint for modernizing a data platform and leveraging the cloud most effectively.
If a healthcare organization is ready to move forward to a modern data platform, it first needs to gauge its status on cloud adoption. It can be difficult for a healthcare organization to jump into modernizing its data platform unless leaders decide that the data platform will be the driver for leveraging the cloud more.
If an organization has already taken steps to leverage cloud capabilities for its electronic health record (EHR) system or financial data, it's in a better position to adopt a modern data platform. Starting from zero will delay adoption, especially since security, privacy, and compliance teams need time to plan for business continuity and personnel training.
Healthcare organizations should also consider their EHR data capabilities and how that could impact their future data platform. Will they leverage what the EHR vendor provides or build a new platform? Instead, they can leverage what their EHR vendor has and look to augment with other technologies. That's the best practice now, regardless of EHR capabilities: Leverage what the EHR vendor provides and move toward modernizing overall.
A healthcare organization that has its data together, organized, and understood in a modern data platform can help build a better future. This is no longer just nice to have; it's critical for any healthcare organization's long-term success.
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