Article

Data-driven interventions shaping the future of healthcare

Manu Swami,

Senior Vice President,
Data and Analytics | Cloud | HealthCare and Life Science Solutions

Published: October 26, 2021

Data is one of the healthcare industry's most valuable resources. Whether a provider develops a treatment plan, assesses a patient, or prepares for a procedure, they need the relevant patient data to ensure they're making the right decisions with the patients' health and safety in mind. The same data influencing a provider's care also shape the insurance companies' coverage plans and the healthcare industry's testing recommendations. And still, pharmaceutical companies are using research and data to develop, trial, and manufacture life-saving drugs.  

There's no denying how much technology and data have transformed healthcare, but further advancements are needed to move the industry forward towards a patient-centric approach.

Challenges faced today

Knowing the importance of data does not mean that using it comes without challenges. Now that we can collect more data, data sets are growing at an accelerated rate. With data being produced at a tremendous pace by devices, patients, systems, and applications, there's much more to make sense of and uncover. The collection takes time, and so does categorizing the information to extract meaningful insights. Still, even with the increased amounts of data, there's a lot we cannot understand about patients from a social, clinical, and commercial perspective.

Aside from the sheer volume of data, costs in the healthcare industry continue to rise. According to the American Medical Association, healthcare expenses cost members in the U.S. an average of $11,582 per member in 2019, with other sites estimating that the cost doubled in 2020. In fact, Medscape estimated that by 2027, healthcare expenses would be 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). But it's not just costs of care that are high; it's research and pharmaceutical production, too. The average drug takes 12 years and costs over $2.5B to get from the lab to the patient population, as reported by Forbes.

With both data and costs continuing to rise, the best way to approach healthcare of the future is through technology.

A look into the future: 10 years from now

If we had a crystal ball and could look into the future, we'd see healthcare transform for the better. Utilizing technology, including sensors, AI, networks, and 5G in diagnostics, can pave the way for:

  • DIY diagnostics like handheld ultrasounds and 3D imaging
  • Greater reliability and dependency of integrated wearables
  • Enhanced trauma care

Treatments and procedures can be improved through robotics, 3D printing, and device innovations, such as:

  • Tele-consultations and remote surgery
  • 3D printed artificial organs
  • Robotic surgery, which currently accounts for only 5% of procedures
  • Remote patient monitoring

Preventative care and follow-up care can be enhanced, too, through the use of technology. For recovery and healthy living, AR/VR, social and mobile applications, and digital therapies can be used for:

  • Home care and remote patient monitoring
  • Nutrition tracking and control
  • Real-time 360-degree view of health

Research and the development of medicine can also benefit from technological advancements like AI, genomics, and quantum computing. These advancements can help create:

  • Personalized medicine
  • Cellular medicine
  • Faster time-to-market, decreasing the current 12-year timeframe

While these developments are great, the goal is to create an overall change in how healthcare works. To prevent diseases rather than treat them after the fact. A few key shifts will happen to allow transformation to take place. These models include a change in:

  • Focus from disease management to health management
  • Care from at the hospital to at home
  • Services from professionals to platforms
  • Payment from service to value
  • Products from group to individual

All of these moving parts are bringing the healthcare industry closer to achieving value-based care. But all of these technological advancements have a common thread needed to transition from an idea into practice, and that's data.

How will data bring transformative technology to healthcare?

Data sets the foundation for technological advancements to be used and capitalized on. To use data to bring real change to the industry, the first necessity is for healthcare organizations to build a robust data ecosystem driven by an API economy. This will allow data and insights to be shared seamlessly across different healthcare parties. With a strong ecosystem in place, analysis and computing power must be provided on edge, and insights must be consolidated leveraging inoperable APIs. Lastly, powering this system by SDOH will ensure that the health and commercial data drive intelligent insights.

As with healthcare data, privacy and trust are of the utmost importance. Companies that leverage the latest technologies, like blockchain, will establish trust between parties to use and deliver data as per established contracts securely. Ethical use of data-driven by patient consent is the key to keeping patients' healthcare information safe and secure. While data democratization should be implemented for universal use, synthetic data provides countless benefits to the healthcare industry. Using synthetic data to fast-track the development of AI modules to embed them into business as usual processes can aid in driving innovation and digital transformation forward.

Data and technology have the power to improve the healthcare industry

Technology has helped transform healthcare in major ways, but much more can be done. By harnessing the power of data and implementing technological advancements into standard processes, the industry can empower patients to manage their data themselves and use it to manage their health.

 

Manu Swami

Senior Vice President,
Data and Analytics | Cloud | HealthCare and Life Science Solutions

Manu is a seasoned Data & Analytics professional with 20+ years of global experience in leading transformation programs across Data Platform Modernization, Advanced Analytics, AI and Master Data Management domains. He currently leads the Healthcare and Life Sciences solutions and technology practices for Virtusa.

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