EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and the software needed to manage and access them are direct replacements for that mess of post-its and manila folders your doctor touts as “patient data”. Slowly but surely, EMR (Electronic Medical Records) are streamlining operations across the entire healthcare industry.
However, today’s healthcare practitioners find themselves at odds trying to decide between different solutions. Solutions that can help save them time and money – without compromising EMR security are seemingly hard to come by.
Recent updates to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act add yet another challenge to the IT health-care game, holding third-party hosting providers liable for any EMR data breach that may occur – either on the hosting or administrative side of things.
Therein lies the problem: EMR security must be increased within the IT service offering and healthcare providers must be able to leverage this technology accordingly. The red tape is adding up but big data can help the healthcare industry deliver better solutions based on analysis of a particular disorder, dysfunction or disease.
5 Areas of Healthcare Big Data Can Improve
Target Care – Analysts must look at specific EMR data sets to develop target care that pertains to a specific patient population. Doctors can then use this information to accurately diagnose a condition or prescribe treatment – faster.
Best Practices – Practitioners are driven by results or “proof” of what works and what doesn’t in terms of patient treatments. The same goes for their IT solutions. Determining the appropriate treatment eliminates the need to comb through random data and can improve best practices in regards to diagnoses.
Improve Patient Experience – Successful health practitioners often cite the importance of providing a positive patient experience. A negative patient experience only adds insult to injury but big Data can help this equation by enabling doctors to know more about their patients before sending them off on a recovery regimen. Cutting down on waiting times can also improve the patient experience.
Identify Inconsistencies – Through proper analysis doctors can use big data to identify inconsistencies in healthcare. If a process isn’t being delivered effectively, doctors can adjust the way problems are being addressed, which helps them improve the quality of treatment.
Communication – The standardized approach to communication between a doctor and a patient has long been that of the written word. By the time the patient gets into a room, so much paper work has been filled out that the narrative is gone. Big Data may improve this dialogue by freeing up a doctor and patient to speak freely about a condition and/or treatment plan.
Some practitioners agree that big data has value within the treatment process but security, or more importantly, HIPAA compliance is still a big issue; before doctors can leverage big data they must learn how to protect it. Experts propose there are ways to address security concerns: Firstly, de-identify patient information via a safe harbor rule; secondly, use best judgment to determine if statistical data applies to the small numbers of patients or the patient themselves. Sounds trivial but patient data has a way of standing out – particularly those of the small minority who made frequent visits to a practitioner’s office.
Random generalization of patient data may help practitioners avoid compliance issues; protect EMR confidentiality while simultaneously helping to provide faster, more effective treatment to their patients. If the healthcare industry wishes to leverage big data for the sake of better treatment, random generalization of patient data may be the only way to go. The best case scenario would be if IT providers worked together and shared information in order to develop a more standardized approach to EMR analysis, implementation and procedural failsafe’s. Until then, the industry will simply have to rely on critical mass to gain trust in the marketplace.
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