Exponential Growth in Data Collection and Sharing within Healthcare Technology
Data is in every facet of today’s modern society. Not only is there an exponential increase in the volume of data, but there is also more data in more places. The total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally is forecast to increase rapidly, reaching 64.2 zettabytes in 2020. Over the next five years, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes.
Organizations today are challenged to upgrade legacy tools and processes, and make sure data is housed properly in a secure and relevant way.
In healthcare, new technology standards are creating unique opportunities for patients and clinicians alike. Dr. William Stead from Vanderbilt University has estimated the number of data points, or facts, needed for a complex medical decision. In 1980, there were about 10 facts per decision. As of 2020, there were around 1,000 facts per complex decision. Making this more interesting, cognitive research, the study of the mind and its processes, shows that a human can handle only five to nine facts in a single decision.
Prior to Covid-19, medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer, according to a study by patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins University. One can argue those critical errors were made because all the needed data was not readily available to make the most informed decisions. That is caused by the lack of a decision support system that could handle more than a handful of facts to help clinicians make the best choices.
The clinician’s ability to compute critical decisions on the fly, with limited facts, is due in part to large institutional clinical care systems, processes, and workflows being very much the same as they were decades ago. Doctors are already inundated with alerts and demands on their attention; tedious administrative tasks should be minimized so they can better focus on the patient in front of them, helping patients get high-quality care no matter where they seek it.
Even with newer technologies readily available, institutions still rely on pagers, faxes, email, and voicemail, which does not make for effective information sharing. One analysis, published in the Journal of Healthcare Management, suggests a 500-bed hospital loses over $4 million each year due to communication inefficiencies, with hospital physicians wasting around 45 minutes a day due to inefficient systems. Technologies like FHIR, [pronounced "fire"] are a systemic game changer that facilitate lightning-fast exchange of pertinent clinical data and empower clinicians to make the best choices.