Medical records, prescriptions, wearables like the Fitbit and Apple Watch and even social media all contain potentially valuable health information. With the size of the digital universe continuing to grow exponentially, and the promise of next gen tech like AI and machine learning promising instant transformation, it’s no surprise that healthcare organizations are planning to invest heavily in big data, analytics and cloud technologies in 2018.
As insurers, payers, providers, pharma and beyond work to get a handle on all of the data available, there will be four major shifts in the healthcare industry in the coming year. Those that embrace the current wave of digital change will not only have competitive advantages, including improved member experiences and reduced operating costs, but also be able to begin meaningful, implementable, discussions on topics such as AI and blockchain. Those that don’t will simply be disrupted and replaced by those that do.
Taking risk means sharing data
One way or another value-based care is here to stay and will force unprecedented coordination and collaboration between payers, providers and pharma. Analytics will provide clear wins, but companies will also find that “bad data in still means bad data out.” Companies across the ecosystem will need to curate their data to assure its provenance, governance, availability and security in order to get a 360-view and truly meaningful insights.
But with increased sharing can come increased vulnerability. As more information is shared with more people, companies must also combine forces to outpace hackers, insider threats and human error, which continue to cost millions in fines and settlements. In an effort to prevent becoming the next newsworthy breach, organizations will need to abandon their traditional “closed door” security policies in favor of forming coalitions and sharing best practices—and maybe even prior mistakes that will take secure data sharing to the next level.
Within a company, security leadership (such as CISOs) and innovation leadership (such as CDOs) will have to learn to get along. At this point, digital transformation is considered essential by most CEOs, as is preventing a data breach. While business demands data becomes more available to more consumers and partners, the CISO sees a larger attack surface. Since there’s no stopping the digitization of business, and it’s critical to realize faster time-to-value, security will have to be included early in the conversation for every project, whether it’s for a new customer app or M&A.
Real World Evidence (RWE) projects will accelerate
The FDA is taking the lead in pushing real world evidence, already making bold public statements that the current clinical trial system “is broken.” The 21st Century Cures Act, enacted by President Obama in December 2016, directs the FDA to explore RWE—such as test results, medical records and even patient-provided information – to speed drug and device approvals. Drug makers, physicians and payers are beginning to feel the pressure coming down the pipeline and are accelerating their RWE programs to make faster and better healthcare decisions.
Companies that exploit RWE will quickly see the business benefits, and one key to their success will be what technology they do, or don’t, choose to enable their RWE efforts. Finding test results, identifying best practices, or making the next great discovery will require the ability to cost-effectively integrate and share all types of data with increased transparency, agility and speed.
AI will demand updated infrastructure
AI is going to change the way businesses make decisions, the way people work, and whether they work at all, permanently. Healthcare and other businesses are spending enormous amounts of time and money to harness value from their information assets, only to discover their antiquated IT infrastructures will not support the level of accuracy, governance, lineage and security necessary to move into the world AI promises.
In many cases the Big Data movement has left people frustrated, knowing there is tremendous value to be had, but not actually getting it despite their investment. For instance, many enterprises are creating data lakes—storage repositories that house extremely large volumes of raw data—that lack the capabilities needed to actually operationalize the potential insights gained and track key attributes like who entered the data, when and why.
Healthcare systems can overcome these governance issues by implementing an operational data hub that not only keeps data in one place, but also keeps the context and metadata (data about data) with the data, allowing the insights gained from their investments to yield the ROI they were promised.
Digital transformation will really start to mean something
When data is stuck in different formats and spread across silos, more data and data-driven business models like mobile can seem like more of a burden than a benefit. As new insurtech and health IT startups use their VC funding to skip over the legacy business models and legacy infrastructure constraints of the incumbents, those incumbents are starting to compete for who can innovate faster by adopting next-gen technologies to drive innovation.
Consumers, even as patients, are expecting the same seamless experience they get from online shopping, whether for clothes, car insurance or groceries. The upside is that healthcare organizations that keep pace with consumer demands will build a consumer-centric healthcare experience that helps retain and grow their base, as well as improves health outcomes and cuts spending.
An Apple a day may still keep the doctor away—it’s just that now it’s white, or black or silver and requires charging.