Data sources are numerous and readily available, but until now, they have been treated as isolated, unconnected elements. Electronic patient medical records have been adopted by 94% of hospitals in the United States, according to Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH).

However, the information included is generally not linked to other data sources, such as staff schedules, insurance claims, pre-payment approvals, or the time taken for different processes, such as patients’ waiting times at healthcare centers or medicine turnaround delivery time.

Connecting the dots means going far beyond “accumulating” data. Data should be managed intelligently to understand its enormous underlying value, to use new technologies to generate efficiencies, save costs and, most importantly, take healthcare institutions to a new level of innovation and patient experience.

Data that heals

Data is the key to reducing waiting times (and thus exponentially enhancing patient experience). A study cited by the International Hospital Federation (IHF) found that patients wait more than two hours from registration to getting the prescription slip, while the contact time with medical personnel is only, on average, 15 minutes. A data-driven healthcare company can also use technology to decrease lab turnaround times, patient wait times, and safety incidents (eliminating transcription errors in prescriptions or medical records).

To achieve these multiple benefits, companies in the sector must break down old technological and cultural barriers. The support of the right technology partner is key to overcoming them all. Because an expert partner in the field has the experience, knowledge, talent, resources and time that healthcare companies lack.

Between technological and cultural obstacles

The technological obstacles within each healthcare organization are perhaps the easiest to resolve. It is enough to design the appropriate data architecture and storage strategy to ensure that the data is of high quality, always available and that it enjoys the highest levels of privacy protection. A study by cybersecurity specialist Astra found that the healthcare sector suffered nearly 337 breaches in the first half of 2022 alone affecting almost 20 million individuals.

This is not a minor issue: the IFH cites another estimate that the global amount of available health data has increased fifty-fold over the past three years. Most of it is unstructured and, as mentioned, is often fragmented, scattered, and rarely standardized. Precisely, standardization is another area where the involvement of a suitable technology partner is key.

Time for integration

The most critical challenge is cultural and industry-wide: integrating multiple data sources dispersed among providers, practitioners, healthcare facilities, and government offices. A collaborative, standards-based infrastructure is the key to unlocking the potential of all that data. Likewise, it is essential to define data exchange models and intelligent strategies so that all relevant users are connected to them securely and on time.

And it is not just a matter of implementing new technological solutions. It is just as important to advance with data literacy processes, i.e., to develop new knowledge and digital skills among users, healthcare professionals, administrative staff, patients, regulatory entities, HMOs, and other stakeholders.

Connecting the dots and making the most out of data: the barriers that companies in the industry need to lift to drive the health of their operations, their talent, their ecosystem members, and their patient base.