The benefits that data brings to healthcare, despite fears

Sloan Gaon

Digital Health Age

February 21, 2019

Sloan Gaon, CEO of health technology firm PulsePoint explains how data can be utilized to transfer knowledge from a human scale to a digital scale, allowing us to understand digital and real world behavior ultimately to help people make better decisions, find better care, and be more satisfied with their healthcare interactions.

Fear of shame. Fear of ridicule. Fear of lost control. We live in a world of fear. And while the internet has given us immediate access to information, one thing the internet hasn’t done well is explain how it works to the average Joe. We’ve seen this play out in the headlines around data security and usage. We have watched from the sidelines as events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the debate over 23andMe selling consumer data to GSK pushed this topic to the forefront and shed light on the frontline impacts of GDPR.

Our fears of exploitation are causing us to overlook the benefits that “data” brings to healthcare – to take knowledge from a human scale to a digital scale. Data allows us to understand digital and real-world behavior, to help consumers make better decisions, find better care, and be more satisfied with their healthcare interactions. Because our lives are multi-dimensional, our health is impacted by much more than just our bodies, making the causal relationship between our life and our health indirect.

Technology has already changed the doctor-patient relationship, offering more access and options to patients. Today, we have 24/7 access to information, health resources and records, always with us in our pockets or on our wrists. So, while doctors have valuable data points from the one-on-one relationship between HCP and patient, there are other contributing factors that go beyond the information we share that can improve health outcomes.

This will become even more so in 2019. The amount of health data readily available to the average person is about to surge drastically as medical-grade devices connected to the internet enter mainstream daily usage. The Apple Watch 4 is a key example. If we leverage technology, particularly around data, to better understand how health consumers behave – the patterns and sequencing of their actions, variances by health condition, stage in patient journey, or internal / external triggers – we can better help those who need help while not bothering those who do not.

Having access to healthcare data for the purpose of general research to find new drug targets and better select patients for clinical studies shouldn’t be overlooked. As costs of finding and testing drugs increase and successes become harder to achieve, more drug makers are streamlining their research and development.

Through Radical Health Personalization we can illuminate a consumer’s path on their health journey and enable health organizations the power to refocus on patients and patient empowerment. The good news for all of us is that this can be done in a way that addresses a consumers’ fear over privacy concerns. We need to get better about transparency of use and empowering the individuals’ rights over their data, so that data signals used at each point in the health supply chain provide value, while respecting consumer privacy standards. We need comprehensive federal regulations and a framework, not state regulation or band aids. We have to rebuild trust with consumers and use data for good.

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