In healthcare, it’s increasingly important to ensure that the proper information is in the right hands at the right time. This is why healthcare data management is so vital to the exchange of information between organizations, IT systems, and caregivers.
Data management technology is one of the pillars of healthcare IT, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone or unlikely to change. In fact, a variety of elements are influencing this aspect of tech and healthcare CIOs cannot afford to ignore these factors if they wish to compete in the years to come.
Decentralized data will be a major feature of the next generation of healthcare data management technologies. This decentralization of data will occur by way of APIs incorporated into every aspect of the health system.
Instead of data warehouses, there will be an influx of web service calls between applications. This is already happening with FHIR apps being built on pharmacy and EHR systems. The end result will be an improved user experience, better data access for third-party applications, and additional uses for the data. This not only makes the data more useful, but it improves users’ access to it, and it cuts down on the cost of maintaining server farms to store copies of the data.
Additionally, healthcare professionals will be drawn to more intuitive systems and health systems can further cut down on costs if less infrastructure and fewer employees are necessary.
Private cloud functionality, another feature that’s expected to make a mark on the next generation of data management tech, has already seen some adoption in the industry. This adoption is expected to steadily increase as it becomes simpler and less expensive to put new applications and services in the cloud.
All of this will require communication between the cloud and on-premise data, so standard interfaces will become the backbone of this system.
Blockchain Takes the Stage
Blockchain is another technology that is expected to influence the future of the healthcare industry. Executives are beginning to warm up to the power of cryptography, though few have started experimenting with it.
Blockchain is so captivating because it’s a secure and transparent platform that can be used to capture, exchange, and track data. The technology’s complexity, as well as security risks and regulatory constraints, has slowed its implementation. However, the healthcare industry’s interest in Blockchain will ultimately result in its widespread use.
Instead of waiting for this to happen, healthcare CIOs should prepare by engaging in pilot activities that improve their understanding of Blockchain technology, it’s requirements, and the value it can add to an organization.
Application Independent Clinical Archive (AICA)
Application independent clinical archive (AICA) is another new technology that should play an important role in healthcare data management in the coming years. There’s a growing need for a more holistic patient record with a rich archive of data that clinicians can access at the point of care to more effectively perform their jobs. AICA aims to be this improved patient record, the successor to vendor neutral archives (VNAs).
Where traditional VNAs simply managed radiology images, an AICA serves as a repository for all the data you won’t find in an EHR. Traditionally, this data is siloed away in applications that don’t communicate or integrate with the EHR.
It’s become increasingly common for patient data to remain trapped in legacy applications, like an old EHR system. Data inherited from an acquisition or consolidation of hospital systems can also become trapped.
Artificial intelligence and its related technologies are poised to infiltrate the entire healthcare spectrum due to their use in managing data. Some of these other technologies include natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, population health management, and general analytics. While each technology is distinct, they do overlap, and vendors are beginning to offer some or all these solutions.
Despite the buzz surrounding AI and the high expectations the industry has for these technologies, it’s wise to be cautious. After all, AI is still in its infancy.
Some friction exists between clinicians and these newer technologies. Vendors must work with clinicians to educate them on the ways these technologies will improve care delivery rather than replace the existing model. If implemented properly, AI could change healthcare as we know it.
Genomics is sure to influence how healthcare data is managed. Information systems must start accounting for precision medicine as it becomes more common for clinical treatment. Genomics and other molecular data require a large increase in computing and storage capabilities.
Today’s EHRs don’t offer that functionality, so the stage is set for innovation in the field of data management technologies.