Healthcare generates enormous data, covering areas of patient care and compliance, drug research and development, achieving business objectives, and so much more. Keep reading and find out more about healthcare data strategy and why you should consider building it.
During 2020, it was projected that healthcare data was going to grow to 25,000 petabytes (whereas 1 petabyte can hold the equivalent of 500 billion pages of text!). Given everything that’s happened, it’s very likely that projection is on the low end of things.
The question is, how do healthcare organizations deal with such a terrific amount of data for the benefit of patients, stakeholders, partners, and shareholders? When developing healthcare products, your primary task is to come up with a viable data strategy; defining how to store and use all these data volumes effectively.
In this article, we’ll figure out why developing a well-thought-out healthcare data strategy is essential and how to create one for your business.
Why do you need a data strategy?
A good data strategy helps organizations define how a database of their future healthcare product should look like. It gives more insights into how much data management work is expected.
Thus, you have to answer a few basic question at the pre-development stage:
- What is the source of our product data?
- Do we need to work with any third-parties to get some of this data? If so, how will that be achieved and could it impact the integrity of the data?
- Is the data we are going to use compliant with relevant data protection laws, governmental organizations, internal rules, and healthcare compliance laws (such as HIPPA in the US)?
- What do we want to achieve with this data?
- Is the data clean (e.g. is formatting clear, without a significant number of errors or duplications), or is data cleansing – also known as ‘janitorial work’ – needed to make it scalable and usable?
- How are we hoping this will improve patient outcomes, profitability, drive efficiencies, or create new products and services once the data is in a usable format?
When you look at these questions in greater detail, many more concerns will arise.
3 essential questions to answer when building a data strategy
To build a truly workable data strategy for a new healthcare product, you should dig deeper into the technical component and make some crucial decisions ahead.
Particularly, you should clearly address these three core questions regarding your product development, launch, and maintenance:
Will it scale?
Whether a new healthcare product and the data it uses can scale is your primary concern at the planning stage. If the aim is to scale, even in the flexible, seasonal sense, it directly influences the software architecture being created and deployed. You may not always need to scale upward. At times, it could be useful to have the flexibility to scale downward, which requires architectural elasticity.
Scaling, and whether that’s possible with the data flowing into any new product, also depends on the overall goals of the project. The data being used in the app makes a big difference as to whether it will scale, especially if you use third-party sources.
One of the main challenges making data scale within healthcare organizations is the fact that too much legacy technology includes relational systems that involve silos. In other words, data needs to be extracted out of these silos before. It can be introduced to scalable systems and therefore made more useful and transmittable across and within other systems.
What types of data needs to be leveraged?
Although structured data is the most common sort of data you’d expect to find in healthcare organizations, they are increasingly creating or handling vast amounts of unstructured information. This data is often spread across multiple systems, including EHRs, numerous apps, and even patient-centric third-party apps.
What you want to achieve has a direct impact on how data is pulled into any new system and how you plan to use it.
What do you want to achieve with this data?
And finally, by far the most important question: What targets do you want to reach using all of this data?
Most healthcare organizations have multiple stakeholders to consider. To keep things simple, apps and new products usually focus on one or two. Whether that’s payers or providers, or patients.
It would be best if you thought about how the data will be used, what the outcomes will be, and how your stakeholders will benefit.
Some of the possible questions can be:
- Are you wanting to improve the patient experience?
- Do you need to save money and increase efficiency?
- Is this an app designed to increase revenue, such as delivering a new service, or improving an existing one?
Clearly define your primary goals and use them as a foundation of your healthcare data strategy.
A smart way to manage data
When developing a new product, healthcare organizations have a lot to consider. Management of information is one of the biggest matters. As we’ve figured out, massive amounts of data are created, and consequently, you have to find a workable way to manage them carefully and effectively.
Data is no longer simply the responsibility of the IT department either. Everyone in the organization plays a role in. Different teams and stakeholders contribute to data management. The outcomes when it’s used in a new product need to be thoroughly estimated.
Working with data smartly is a science. Development of a scalable data strategy means mastering this science.
About us: AppWell Health is a trusted software development partner. Combining industry expertise, software development, cybersecurity, and design to craft unique healthcare product solutions. We help our clients build competitive healthcare software products. If you have any questions, please drop us a line at any time.