Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data

File under: Big Data, Mobile Health, Patient Engagement, Relationship Marketing

I’ve been thinking recently about some of the newer sources of health data, namely patient-generated data. My working headline is something like “Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data.”

mobile3I have the distinct sense that our rapt attention to mobile devices, mobile health, patient data, patient-generated data, etc. is all really exciting for those of us who are in technology because we love the idea of sensors and capturing data that could never be captured before and building massive databases and doing all this great regression analysis on it to look for tipping points and trends and turning it into cool graphical reports. It’s fun and exciting and sexy!

But patient-generated data often breaks down when it meets the physician. And here’s why.

There’s a tidal wave of patient generated data from apps and devices that is only increasing. When you read stats about how many tens of thousands of medical health apps there are in the Apple Store and how new devices are being launched every other week, it leads to a deluge of patient data.

Data from patient apps and devices – activity level, heart rate, blood glucose, etc. – is all “structured” within its environment, that’s good, but it’s not interoperable with any other data. This means that the data is seldom integrated with any electronic medical records system (EMR) at the physician level. That’s a problem for doctors wanting (required) to leverage these systems to interact with their patients.

Now I actually think that the interoperability challenge will fix itself over the next year or two as standards emerge for not only the different flavors of EMR systems but also for integrating data from mobile devices. There will be a drive for these device makers to be able to get their apps to talk to the EMR ecosystem. So we’re going to figure it out on a technical side. What we haven’t figured out yet is the human interface challenge.

In fact I think the human interface challenge for physicians is significant. It’s challenging enough for physicians to manage the new EMR workflow for reviewing diagnostic tests and capturing patient notes. Layer on an entirely new stream of information and you have a prescription for a doctor revolt.

I’ve been thinking about this challenge in terms of three important issues that we need to address: data overload, patient expectations, and personalization.

I don’t know if these are all the issues, or even the most important ones, but I’m going to give them some more thought and see if I can offer some ideas and approaches in my next blog. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions from your perspective, feel free to comment.

Stand by…

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