According to a study conducted by IDC, the data production growth rate in healthcare is expected to exceed that of any other industry sector through 2025. To keep up with the volume of information generated by imaging, telemedicine, electronic medical records and other data sources, healthcare will inevitably face data challenges.
The digitization of healthcare is no longer a debate. According to IDC’s FutureScape: Worldwide Health Industry 2021 Predictions, by 2023, 65% of patients will have access to care via a digital platform. Driven by technological acculturation, this phenomenon is encouraged by healthcare providers who are looking for better ways to improve access, engagement, and experiences across all healthcare services.
This transformation calls for another prediction pointed out by IDC:
By 2024, the proliferation of data will result in 60% of healthcare organizations’ IT Infrastructure being built on a data platform that will use AI to improve process automation and decision making.
From this point on, one observation is clear: data is at the heart of everything in the healthcare industry. From research to production, from development strategies to performance optimization, this sector is faced with the need to adopt, more than ever, a true data culture.
The benefits of data in the healthcare sector
According to a survey of specialist doctors conducted in 2019 by Elsan (France’s 2nd largest private healthcare operator), more than one out of two healthcare professionals is looking for digital solutions that will enable them to facilitate data collection and share information between professionals.
Among the uses favored by more than 60% of respondents is the collection of patient information before a consultation, to avoid re-entering prescriptions. This would save time in medical practices, and would involve a better flow of information between healthcare professionals for a more precise, rapid, and rigorous follow-up of the patient.
Everyday medicine is one of the first to benefit from the use of data. Researchers are also making massive use of data. Throughout the last 18 months, as the health crisis affected the entire globe, Big Data has helped to win the race against COVID-19 by allowing laboratories to share knowledge and thus, adapt measures to slow the progression of the epidemic.
The contribution of data in the healthcare sector and the pharmaceutical industry is indisputable: accelerated research, animation of the scientific community, efficiency of medical follow-up, etc. But beyond the benefits, the challenges are numerous!
A sector where data is highly regulated
To exploit the full potential of data, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical industry players must be up to the challenge.
Indeed, data remains a very sensitive asset, and citizens and legislators alike are making sure that certain limits (in terms of privacy and confidentiality) are never crossed.
In a report entitled “Data Governance in healthcare (french)”, written at the instigation of the French Institute of International Relations, the authors underline
“the shortcomings of pre-existing governance models in each region of the world” and recall the urgency of “a recomposition of governance and data protection models”.
Behind the notion of data governance also lies that of sovereignty. In France, for example, the question of storing data related to the current pandemic has been raised. A public database called Health Data Hub was created and developed throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
This database by Microsoft Azure was certainly controversial. Having ethical and moral values related to data confidentiality is a central issue, not to mention the risks of data security breaches! Indeed, the IBM Cost of Data Breach report reveals that the average cost of a data breach has increased by 10% in one year, reaching $4.24 million.
In France, the average cost of a data breach is €3.84 million. As for the average cost per lost or stolen record, it reaches 213 € in the pharmaceutical sector. A reality that leads to creating excellent conditions in terms of data security!
The challenge of data quality in healthcare
Although highly regulated, access to health-related data can save lives or simply enable patients to be managed in an appropriate manner by having access to their health history.
It is therefore crucial to rely on data infrastructures capable of protecting and maintaining the quality of this sensitive information, which once altered or erroneous, can have serious consequences.
To meet the data challenges of today and tomorrow, new and highly innovative companies have appeared in the sector, known as “Healthtech“. They have come to shake up an industry in need of tools to digitize and automate access to large volumes of data on a daily basis.
The healthcare sector, although highly regulated for obvious reasons of data security and confidentiality, must be able to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the proper circulation of quality data.
The challenge is to find the right balance between a strong defensive approach to data access permissions, while facilitating innovation to create the services of tomorrow.