May 16, 2014

Let's encourage secure sharing of health data

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer

There’s a recent report and infographic that surveyed over a thousand consumers and asked them questions related to tracking their own health, searching for health information online, and about sharing health data about themselves with healthcare providers. The report found that an overwhelming majority are already sharing data or would be willing to share data with providers. That’s fantastic! Motivated patients are a very good thing.

This is a trend that the health system should encourage and help foster. Interesting, to me at least, is that the report found that 70% of the people that shared data with providers thought providers were interested in the patient reported data. That finding surprises me because it doesn’t fit into the way that the vast majority of providers deliver, document, and get reimbursed for care today. With very limited time per patient visit, going through tons of new data is not always feasible or encouraged. Self tracking is exactly in line with the goals of healthcare in terms of patient engagement and ownership of patient health. If individuals are actively measuring and quantifying themselves and they want to share that information, it should be encouraged to create a return on that individual investment and effort.

I have personal experiences with family that have wanted to share their own data and been blown off by physicians. An example is my dad. We got him an iPhone-connected glucometer a couple years ago and, in his excitement, he emailed his endocrinologist his data ahead of an appointment. The endocrinologist flat out told him that he couldn’t really use the data. My dad now sends me his weekly reports of blood sugars, which is helpful because I can encourage him but it would be great if his physician supported and encouraged his enthusiasm for self-care.

The second piece of that report found that those individuals, the ones who want to share data, also want to have trust in the way that the data is being shared, and the security and privacy of their data. I think that most people today are leery of security and privacy because there have been so many high profile and public breaches and violations. There’s a lot of concern about who’s selling data to whom and what type of data is actually protected on individuals. This is much, much broader than healthcare.

The fact that a large chunk of people would like to share information that they’re tracking about themselves, they’d like to share that information with their providers is something that, as a health system, I think we need to find a way to integrate that one way or the other.

The data in the infographic also shows trends that innovators and vendors should enable and capitalize upon. First, creating ways for consumers to easily collect and combine information about their activity and daily routine is incredibly valuable. There are countless sensors and apps so this is a crowded space to jump into. Second, creating tools that leverage that data to provide intelligent feedback to individuals is needed. This is an area that more companies are trying to get into, but is still pretty open. Third, enabling the easy sharing of personal data while maintaining the privacy and security of that data is essential to consumer trust and health system buy-in. This is harder, and there is still much to be figured out. Where is data going? Is it using traditional interfaces or new EHR APIs? How is it secured and can it pass the compliance officer? And fourth, though this is implied in 1 through 3 above, would be standardizing the data formats to make it easier for data to be exchanged. So many opportunities….

At Datica we’re here to help you solve some of these challenges. Check out our healthcare-specific Platform to learn more and get started.

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