How Big Data will accelerate the future of digital medicine in 2021

The pandemic has shed light on inefficiencies in healthcare systems, and provided an opportunity to adjust how we manage care in the future. Jennifer Haas, executive vice president of Noteworth, shares her 2021 predictions surrounding the future of telehealth and big data. 

Healthcare providers are grappling with the task of scaling digital care delivery operations for ambulatory patients in response to the cost dynamics of effectively treating large populations with limited resources, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. At the heart of this challenge is how to secure, aggregate, analyse, and action the data necessary to make proactive patient care decisions and diagnoses.

In the coming year, there will be a renewed focus on healthcare providers needing to shift their business models to highlight the new need to make healthcare accessible and effective, regardless of geography, location, and mobility.

This will need to be done while also engaging and empowering patients in their own wellness. A recent report highlighted that over 40% of US adults had delayed seeing a doctor during the pandemic. Powering digital medicine platforms with big data and IoT devices ensures clinicians receive access to the entire scope of a patient’s health information while reducing the need for in-person visits and improving patient outcomes.

The ability to use big data in healthcare through digital medicine will prove to be invaluable for healthcare organisations as they work through the pandemic and the new world it has created. Having access to relevant data through digital medicine is helpful because it provides more opportunities for proactive intervention and a more accurate view of the patients’ health with consolidated real-time information.

“Another key benefit to big data incorporated into digital medicine platforms is the healthcare providers’ ability to connect with healthcare apps to track and monitor patient health”

When it comes to digital medicine, big data can improve communication and strengthen relationships between patients and their various healthcare providers.  This is largely because the use of digital medicine platforms feel much more comfortable and personalised for many patients. It not only allows them to take a more active approach in their own healthcare, but gives them access to their clinicians more freely and frequently.  It also allows the care team to be much more connected to the patients’ day to day progress and highlights potential intervention needs before they become critical.  Risk modeling and stratification will continue to evolve, allowing clinicians to collaborate with AI and Big Data to make more accurate predictions of where a patient’s health is trending.

One of the focuses of digital medicine is remote patient monitoring. This technology is especially helpful during the current pandemic as it gives providers the information needed in order to track the patient’s health statuses and react quickly when a patient has an urgent need for proactive care. Remote patient monitoring can alert patients and their healthcare teams when intervention, including seeking in-person medical attention on a scheduled or emergency basis, is needed. Having this data is vital to the future of how patients and their healthcare providers work together. By combining the power of big data within healthcare, digital medicine platforms can help reduce the number of unnecessary visits patients take to the doctor or hospital and alert providers, caregivers, and patients when their status requires in-person care.

Another key benefit to big data incorporated into digital medicine platforms is the healthcare providers’ ability to connect with healthcare apps to track and monitor patient health. As we see within numerous apps or smartphones, they allow users to track health factors such as physical activity, heart rate, breathing rate, and diet. These data points can be transmitted directly to a doctor and be factored into any treatment decisions. Being able to bring this data together creates more insight into a patient’s preventive and personalised care.

The benefits of big data analytics range across the board in healthcare. Most, if not all, healthcare sectors stand to benefit from the implementation of big data analytics within digital medicine. The providers (hospitals or private practices) will be able to provide better care to their patients to make more accurate data-driven decisions more efficiently.  The biggest winner will be the patients themselves who can utilise telemedicine and remote patient monitoring to their advantage in order to enjoy more flexible and convenient access to care which in turn helps them to live healthier lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the once-niche telemedicine industry into the mainstream, creating a lasting shift in care delivery. In 2021 and beyond, we will see the healthcare industry shift even more towards digital medicine, specifically AI and risk stratification modeling.

If 2020 has taught the healthcare industry anything, it is that patients want choices and control over their own healthcare.  Healthcare providers and insurers need to listen. Leveraging digital medicine platforms allows providers the ability to draw on the desire for personalized, proactive care by utilising actionable data to proactively monitor a patient’s health status between visits while driving down care costs and improving patient outcomes.

About the author 

Jennifer Haas is executive vice president of sales for Noteworth, where she leads sales, channel partnerships, business development, marketing and social media including profit and loss management.