How data is revolutionizing healthcare

"Caring for data is caring for people" Eduard Gil Carbó, Chief Data Officer at Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

Data has increasingly played a transformative role in several aspects of society, with its range of applications growing day by day. The benefits that digital and data-driven technologies pose for society are countless.

Last month, we wrote a brief article about the current role of Information and Communication Technologies in the management of crises, a role bound to continuously change significantly thanks to the power of data. More and more we understand that the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic situation has not only shed a light on the importance of data in decision making but also what an important asset it is.

When it comes to the healthcare sector, it is marked by innovation since its inception, but it is now ushering in a new age of data.

For example, when it comes to patient care, data is responsible for one of the changes most health professionals have already identified. Personalized healthcare based on data and evidence is currently seen as a goal as this approach leads to "better treatment for each patient, along with detailed data that can be transferred from doctor to doctor, making sure they have all the information they need".

In Spain for example, an initiative by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is seeking to create a platform for data donation (article in Spanish), taking inspiration from the national organ donation system, where everyone is a potential organ donor. For Vice President Jesús Marco, the long-term benefit of a platform like this, where the previous patient data is used to help diagnose and treat future patients, is a step forward in the advance of personalized medicine.

At the same time, most professionals find that data allied with artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of effective healthcare. Adding both technologies, medical professionals can work with ever-increasing information and data and still be able to deliver the best treatment available.

Another example of the implications of data in the healthcare sector is linked to something as simple as expenditures. Opportunities for cost reductions or savings have been turning increasingly sparse, as the sector deals with several new regulations and challenging situations. The current pandemic has highlighted that the companies (like pharmaceuticals) that come out stronger from the current crisis are the data-driven ones, that understand their market and its changes, know how to access different opportunities, and use data to their advantage.

But how can a company that works in health use data to seize better opportunities? Implementing evidence and data-based analytics tools like the ones we talked about in a previous article, can simplify and streamline procurement efforts, while identifying interesting savings opportunities.

Whether pharmaceuticals or medical equipment, the ability to cut costs but still maintain the same operational efficiency at any level is the way to go. Savings can also be applied to any healthcare improvement if needed. For example, Z5 Inventory, an American health supply chain management company, identified about 1.3 million worth of medical supply waste over across 30 health care facilities, through the use of a software platform for data science. These medical supplies (most of them excess products) were then reallocated to health care facilities in need. This is quite a big project, but a lot of healthcare facilities are starting to learn the benefits of using data to gain greater control of the supply chain and inventory management.

As most industries recognize the need to adapt to the new digital transformation, few are those that recognize the potential opportunities that continue to appear. The healthcare sector, as widespread as it is, is made up of several industries that pursue innovation and expansion, and the examples we just laid out are a small proof of that.

Covid, Data

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