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Healthcare Industry August 04, 2022

Health Care Data Management: How Important Is It To Healthcare?

Medically Reviewed by undefined

Written by Adaobi Oduenyi

What is Health Data Management?

Health Data Management (HDM) also known as Health Information Management (HIM) is the process of storing, protecting, and analyzing data pulled from diverse sources. This collection of data not only benefits doctors but patients, insurance providers and many other healthcare professionals in the healthcare industry. 

Collecting patient data is nothing new, doctors and nurses write in their journals, update patient charts take notes and document their processes. All of that information collecting process has become mostly digital, this creates a data set that is easier to access and share.

Types of Healthcare Data

  • Patient demographics

  • Medical notes

  • Laboratory test results

  • Procedures and surgeries

  • Imaging, like x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and MRI

  • Prescriptions

  • Referrals and other communication

  • Provider information, etc.

Healthcare organizations and patients can benefit from Health Data Management in different ways such as:

  • Create a comprehensive profile of patients, households, and patient groups—, composite profiles that provide status and enable predictions.

  • Reduce cost: With more data available and the use of predictive modelling, health care professionals are more equipped to be more proactive. Actionable insights make it easier to prevent readmissions, diagnose chronic conditions earlier, optimize treatments and improve care coordination.

  • To improve patient engagement, patients can be targetted with reminders and care suggestions that can be relevant to them, based on predictive modelling.

  • Improve health outcomes, track health trends in certain areas or among specific populations, predict new trends and suggest proactive measures to counter rising health issues.

  • Business decision-making, helps healthcare providers make better data-driven decisions, such as which types of medical professionals to recruit, what equipment to invest in, or which types of patients to target in marketing efforts.

  • Analyze physician activity, analyze data on medical practitioners such as success rates, time invested in different treatments and medical decisions, and align physicians with the goals of the healthcare organization.

What Are The Best Ways To Manage Health Data?

Health data usually comes from the patient via the provider, and the provider enters the data into a medical record system. 

An electronic medical record (EMR) is the type of system that primary care providers normally use as an electronic version of paper record-keeping. Electronic health records (EHRs) are more detailed records that are implemented at hospitals and bigger health institutions. 

Patients can access their health data via a personal health record (PHR), where they are the custodians.

Pre-consultation and pre-surgery forms can be entered digitally from home, and follow-up home blood pressure measurements can be registered and followed virtually by the health care provider. 

All data entered by patients should be validated by their healthcare provider to make sure there are no misunderstandings. Likewise, patients can validate medical information entered by their healthcare provider to decrease medical errors. 

Policies on sensitive data need to be implemented to protect the patient from receiving critical test results alone without the emotional and clinical support from their healthcare provider.

“Healthcare data is becoming digitized and health data management makes sense of this data and manages it to the benefit of healthcare organizations, practitioners, and ultimately patient well-being and health.“

Challenges Facing Health Data Management

Cyber Attacks: Personal health information is extremely sensitive and must be protected against potential breaches and cyber threats, with high-security standards backed by the law. Also, internal restrictions within the organizations are a common practice to ensure only relevant staff members have access.

Redundancy: It is more difficult to manage a database when information is repeated over several locations in the database, this can affect patients, lead to poor healthcare outcomes, and, in worst-case scenarios, cause fatalities.

Fragmented data: this can spread over several platforms, and it can become a challenge when these platforms are communicating with each other. Medical data can be structured data in spreadsheets or databases, images or video files, digital documents, or scanned paper documents. 

Regulations and compliance: medical data is sensitive and must adhere to government regulations. Data discovery challenges and poor data quality make it much more difficult to perform the required audits and meet regulatory requirements and limit the diversity of data healthcare providers can use for the benefit of patients.

Health data management helps the healthcare industry to improve care and decrease medical errors. It also enhances communication with other platforms, such as medical apps, where clear communication between systems is a top priority. 

Health care providers will be able to deliver better care with better access to their patient's health data. Patients can contribute data outside of in-person consultations, and look up their health records to follow their care plans to stay engaged.

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