Healthcare News & Insights

How data sharing could change the entire healthcare industry

Chances are, your hospital uses an electronic health record system, which means you have a lot of patient data to protect and process. New methods of using and sharing that data are on the way, which could end up fundamentally shifting the way the healthcare industry functions. 

Earlier this year, Apple announced a partnership with 13 major healthcare systems, including Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, that will allow Apple to download patients’ electronic health data onto its devices (with patient permission).

An article in Harvard Business Review (HBR) argues this agreement could transform the U.S. healthcare industry by empowering patients in new ways and improving care. While current data sharing attempts focus on making data more fluid and helping it follow patients through multiple visits and health systems, Apple’s partnership would put the power back in the hands of patients.

Streamline data sharing

Giving patients the opportunity to control their own data and share it with whoever they please would help streamline care processes – and even reduce organizational costs.

Since patients could easily access their health data, they wouldn’t have to cut through red tape to get info or take up valuable staff time with unwieldy data requests, freeing up your employees to do more work on the patient care side.

Plus, patients would be able to immediately inform other providers about what procedures or tests they’ve undergone, helping avoid duplicates and saving money on unnecessary services.

In addition, the potential for offering new, relevant services to patients using that data is wide open. The HBR article mentions digital health advisers who use artificial intelligence and the patient data they already have to answer patients’ questions and direct them to the healthcare services they need.

Possible obstacles

This isn’t a perfect solution by any means, though. Right now, Apple’s agreement only includes 13 hospitals, and many more will have to jump on the data sharing train before the initiative expands.

Data protections and security will also have to be further developed, since there will be more opportunities for breaches or failures in the chain of data sharing, especially if organizations decide to use third parties for data storage and analysis.

Your facility might want to consider expanding IT departments and promoting innovations within IT and administrative areas, to get ready for any new opportunities.

You’ll also want to think about implementing additional security measures and protections, like two-factor authentication or data encryption, to make sure your hospital and staff are ready if and when these new data sharing practices become widespread.

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