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EHR Health Data Collection to Impact Health Industry Shift

A new PwC report details the driving forces behind an impending healthcare industry shift, highlighting EHR and health data collection as primary factors.

By Sara Heath

- EHRs and health data collection will be primary drivers behinds a shifting healthcare ecosystem over the course of the next decade.

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According to a report from the PwC Research Health Institute , the healthcare industry is facing a “seismic shift” driven in part by the transition from volume to value, the growth of health technology, and focus on patients as consumers. In order to thrive in that change, PwC researchers suggest that healthcare professionals prepare for swift data collection via the EHR.

“Plan for the day that data inform and power the ecosystem,” the report recommended. “Organizations must consider how fast the data flow, their variety and accuracy and their integration into feedback loops that help achieve goals, such as adjusting insulin in real time based on continuous patient health information.”

Healthcare professionals can support this data collection through robust EHR data standardization. Through standardization, data can flow seamlessly across disparate systems and practices.

EHR and health data interoperability also will support this transformation in the healthcare industry, the PwC researchers wrote. Seamlessly exchanged data may be useful in boosting efforts to power a data-driven health ecosystem.

“[Healthcare providers] also should work with health information exchanges and other groups to securely and privately share health data, research and other information,” the researchers explained. “These data may come from electronic medical records, and other sources too, such as wearables, biosensors embedded in medication, implantable devices, apps, retailers, genomic testing and social media.”

The report detailed others recommendations to help healthcare professionals adjust to the reportedly shifting healthcare space. Digital health organizations, for example, must take advantage of an untapped virtual marketplace.

“Healthcare marketspaces are scarce, signaling enormous potential for growth as companies create virtual spaces to bring buyers, such as consumers, vendors or other healthcare organizations, and sellers together,” the PwC researchers stated.

According to the researchers, the stage is set for these marketplaces to develop, and health IT professionals looking to grow in the shifting health ecosystem may consider taking advantage of them.

It may also be useful for providers and health IT experts to consider the consumer. As the industry shifts from volume to value, increasing emphasis will likely to be placed on consumers. Through an understanding of different patient populations, providers and technology developers can determine which devices may be best suited for certain conditions or sociodemographics.

Adjusting to a shifting culture, however, may keep healthcare professionals from fully embracing the drivers for a healthcare evolution.

“Delivering care in a world of unified standardized care plans requires a mental shift on the part of clinicians, most of whom are used to developing their own plans for their patients,” the reported noted.

Likewise, health IT developers may have difficulty shifting to a new mindset in creating technologies. Those used to creating machines or medications may resist transitioning to a service oriented mindset.

“For example, teams of engineers used to perfecting high-cost imaging machines for hospitals may find it difficult to pivot to designing ‘good enough’ technology for larger markets and smaller budgets,” the researchers explained.

Going forward, it may be useful for healthcare organizations and health IT developers to assess the effect these changes may have on stakeholders. In understanding how EHR data standards can help improve clinical care, for example, providers might find it easier to shift their mindsets.

“In the New Health Economy, organizations should carefully consider the effects of these seismic changes on their employees, and on their overall climates, to ensure they can make the leap to a more nimble, collaborative, connected future,” the report concluded.

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