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Consider this: In the last few years, there has been more data generated and collected than ever. This goes to show, no matter the industry, data is both readily accessible and obviously valuable. In a technological world, data is both organically occurring and a few clicks away with the right data collection tools. However, how this data can be used in conjunction with technology to enhance outcomes is profound. Perhaps this statement is no truer than in terms of data collection in healthcare.
What Is Data Collection in Healthcare?
Data collection in healthcare is simply the process of gathering, analyzing, and using information harvested from various data sources. Data collection may serve a multitude of purposes and help a provider achieve a number of goals. For example, patient demographic data may be valuable for marketing services, building more effective care plans, or even enhancing patient perceptions of care.
In general terms, data collection in healthcare falls under two categories: quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data is most often numerical data, whereas qualitative data is more conceptual with words and descriptions instead of numbers.
Where Does Patient Data Come From?
Patient data can come from numerous sources in the average healthcare setting. For many years, patient data was collected from things like observations and even patient questionnaires. However, modern technology makes use of digital applications, software, and channels to collect more robust and accurate data. Which tools are used for data collection can vary depending on the type of healthcare organization, the size of the organization, and even the organization’s budget? Most organizations collect data through:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
- Electronic health records (EHR) systems
- Custom-built software and applications
- Patient-targeted online or in-person surveys
The Importance of Data Collection in Healthcare
Patient and care data could shape the efficacy, safety, and profitability of care models for the future. Additionally, proper patient data analysis and utilization could mean benefits for both providers and patients. However, collected data is surprisingly grossly underutilized across the board. In fact, over 99 percent of data is never analyzed or used. Look at a few reasons data collection is important in healthcare.
Improved Patient Experiences
By collecting data regarding patient satisfaction scores, providers can make adjustments in practice models to better accommodate patients and make sure they have a positive experience. For example, consider a provider who collects data regarding how satisfied patients are with care. By comparing that data with patient demographic data, the provider finds patients who speak limited English are most likely to be dissatisfied. This gives the provider insight into specific areas of care models that need adjustment, such as language access services. Other ways data collection could improve patient experiences include:
- Care outcomes can be enhanced
- More personalized treatments are possible
- Provider/patient communication could be enhanced
Improved Decision-Making with Patient Care
Data collection allows all providers to make more informed decisions about a patient’s care. With applications designed for sharing patient data across multiple channels, every care provider within one organization has all the information available to treat that patient. Additionally, all collected data can be transferred to an outlying provider as needed to guide decision-making processes during treatment.
Operational Cost Reductions
The costs associated with providing care are growing by dumbfounding rates, which means patients are also facing major rises in healthcare costs. Healthcare data analytics could mean as much as $300 Billion saved annually. More informed care can mean lowered costs of care for patients due to fewer readmissions for the same illness or even shorter lengths of stay. Because providers can use the data to make more informed care decisions, they can also lower the costs of unnecessary resources and time used.
Consulting firm McKinsey estimated that big data analytics adoption can save up to 17% of healthcare costs. In 2013 that amounted to $493 billion dollars in reductions!
Stats on webtribunal.net
Competitive Advantage for the Provider’s Market
Using the latest patient data collection technologies could easily give a provider a competitive advantage over others in the same field of medicine. For example, a dentist that understands which oral health concerns impact patients the most can adjust care services to meet those needs. Therefore, patients would naturally gravitate toward the dentist because they are more likely to offer the care they need or want.
What Is the Bigger Impact of Data Collection in Healthcare?
While using data effectively produces immediate benefits, data collection in healthcare also creates a bigger impact in the long term. A few examples include:
- EHR Can Become More Predictive – EHR systems like PrognoCIS already have predictive functions, but the more robust data collection becomes, the more these programs will be capable of better serving both the patient and the provider before a need is recognized.
- Early Diagnosis and Treatment Is Probable – Much like clinical studies offer insight into proper diagnosis and treatment, larger-scale data collection could make way for even better recognition of certain diseases and how they should be treated.
- Epidemic Prevention Is more Likely – Data collected across multiple providers allows for in-depth analysis of community health, including symptoms, treatment outcomes, and more. Therefore, signs of an epidemic could potentially be spotted early so interventional steps can be taken.
What About the Importance of Data Quality in Healthcare?
For care providers to get the most out of patient data collected, data quality is incredibly important. Therefore, it is so important to make use of the latest technologies when collecting data. For example, something as seemingly harmless as an outdated EHR system could severely compromise the quality of patient data collected and how that data is put to work for the provider.
Key Takeaways – The Scope of Big Data and Data Collection in Healthcare
The healthcare industry is incredibly vast with numerous providers and patients involved. Therefore, harnessing the power of big data in healthcare could easily shape and change the efficacy and efficiency of care. Everything from finances to patient experience could easily be improved with the right data collection practices in place.