Traci Reed’s late husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 39 and died a year later.
“It happened 12 years ago,” said Reed, now director, Customer Value and Integration, Baxter. “I think about what her life would have been like in today’s world, where a genetic mutation could potentially be identified early before it progressed to inoperable stage 4 cancer – and clinicians could intervene with a effective treatment much earlier.”
Like Reed, healthcare leaders are now recognizing the value of connected medical devices and patient monitoring technologies.
“Healthcare organizations are the recipients of all new forms of data that are collected when patients use devices remotely,” she said. “During COVID, we identified opportunities associated with the use of mobile devices to manage and treat illnesses outside of acute care settings. The data collected prompts providers to intervene when a state of decline is identified and empowers patients and their caregivers to take control of their health.
Indeed, with access to data, it is possible to better understand disease processes and improve outcomes.
For example, as a former respiratory therapist, Reed appreciates how access to real-time data can help the growing patient population with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“COPD patients are often also heart failure patients – and that’s a very fragile disease state,” she said. “So the changes can happen very quickly and can potentially push patients into needing emergency help. Physiological monitoring through biometrics and wearable devices can identify risk factors that may lead to care intervention to reduce the risk of hospitalization and improve outcomes.
Aggregated data also advances medicine. “Research and life science companies are leveraging gene mapping to detect genetic mutations in cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and even autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis earlier,” Reed said. .
However, relying on data pulled from remote devices presents challenges such as:
Connectivity. A reliable low-latency network is necessary for different stakeholders to share data. “There are still populations in rural areas who lack the essential infrastructure to enable remote monitoring,” she noted.
Storage. When dealing with massive amounts of data, storage is a pressing concern. While cloud storage is viable, executives need to address HIPAA compliance and security issues with this option.
Normalization. Data routed to analytics applications must be correct and consistent. Even a small amount of dirty data can create inaccurate conclusions, according to Reed.
Reports. Healthcare organizations (HCOs) generate numerous complaints, performance, and quality reports each year. To achieve this, HCOs need to structure and transform data into visual assets. Fortunately, many software products can support such efforts.
Interoperability. Data sharing between stakeholders is becoming increasingly important as the industry moves towards value-based care.
“The HL7 standards development organization has been established for over three decades now, and it continues to…create standards and frameworks for the electronic exchange of health information,” Reed said.
FHIR takes its efforts a step further by improving data exchange by leveraging software that uses application programming interfaces to simplify system integrations.
“FHIR brings us closer to this seamless state of very detailed information exchange that benefits patients, payers, providers and device manufacturers,” she said. “The caveat is that FHIR comes with its fair share of challenges – and that can be a big and expensive investment.”
In addition to addressing these challenges, HCOs have discovered the value of working with trusted partners who can help turn data into intelligence that ultimately improves care and saves lives.
“Over the past year, many HCOs have created unique partnerships to cross-reference their data with health device and data companies to extract meaningful insights into disease, vaccine effectiveness and outcomes. adverse events,” Reed concluded.
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