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Big data can sit comfortably with healthcare
November 7, 2016 News big data Healthcare

 

If there is one sector where big data has already found a natural home, it’s in the world of healthcare.

At the recent Innovation in Healthcare roundtable co-hosted by The Australian Financial Review and Philips, CEO of Lorica Health Paul Nicolarakis said what’s exciting is the way data is now being used. He says we are seeing the combination of technological advances and societal comfort starting to converge and this is allowing really interesting things to be done.

Yet while we are seeing data being utilised to improve clinical outcomes, Nicolarakis says, there are no automated ways for the clinicians to actually see how they are performing as yet. And while he is a strong believer in data sharing across the board, clinicians should be the first to look at their own data.

His reason is the feedback of data to clinicians and hospital wards creates a “feedback loop” – allowing them to monitor and improve their own performance.

Lorica Health's Paul Nicolarakis says the feedback of data to clinicians and hospital wards could help them monitor and ...

Lorica Health’s Paul Nicolarakis says the feedback of data to clinicians and hospital wards could help them monitor and improve their performance.

Nicolarakis hypothetically applied the “Dunning-Kruger effect” to an ungoverned health system, in which “the top 50 per cent of participants wrongly believe they are in the top 2 per cent of performers”.

“To avoid this miscalculation, the necessary transmission of data back to the clinician offers a means of self-regulation and accountability,” Nicolarakis says.

Obviously the elephant in the room on the big data front is the issue of consumer privacy and it is often cited as a reason why most Australians have not signed up to the federal government’s My Health Record – but interestingly, that might not be the case.

According to Kevin Barrow managing director of Philips Australia and New Zealand, only a quarter of the more than 2000 patients surveyed in Australia as part of the company’s global Future Health Index survey state privacy concerns as an issue with having their data stored as part of a national e-health record.

Simple question

Barrow suggests My Health Record’s lack of success has more to do with consumers not having been given the chance to embrace it. A lot of people just do not know about it, so they still complain about having to provide their details multiple times to multiple providers.

For the executive director of The George Institute Vlado Perkovic, the simple question as to why people are not signing up to the e-health record is, why should they?

“Most people don’t actually visit their doctor or go to a healthcare facility most of the time,” Perkovic says.

“We are talking about a relatively small part of the population who regularly attend medical care. And for those people, clearly they can more quickly get an understanding of what the benefits are and are more likely to get engaged.

 “But for someone like me, I saw my GP a few months ago and I didn’t even think to ask about it. I have no idea whether I have an electronic health record and it’s not because I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Perkovic says figuring out how to make it of value to patients, and how to make it a routine part of clinical practice, is key.

And the problem at the moment is “data is not being efficiently used”.

“The inefficiency is due to multiple duplicate data collection systems that are effectively collecting the same results.”

 Yet despite systemic problems of accessibility and privacy when using medical data, most panel members were optimistic that feeding back the data to hospitals and clinicians will eventually lift the quality of care provided.

This article was originally published on www.afr.com and can be viewed in full here

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