|By Bob Gourley||
|July 30, 2014 06:24 AM EDT||
With U.S. agencies mandating that healthcare providers engage their consumers through patient portals, data science may be the secret weapon for physicians and health care organizations to not only comply with that mandate, but provide a level of service that bonds them to patients under their care.
Combined with electronic health records (EHR), patient portals allow physicians and patients to collaborate, providing a means for patients to meaningfully participate in their care. This is especially important when managing and treating chronic conditions such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
While mandated patient portals can be viewed as a check-the-box effort to comply with Meaningful Use requirements, the opportunity is to supercharge portals with data science to improve access and quality of health care.
Data science is changing the way we work and play
Law enforcement, retail and agriculture are just a few industries where data science is changing the way we work and play. Fueled by the seemingly endless volume of big data and advances in computing and data warehousing technologies, scientists and analysts are able to employ data mining and analytic models to create a deep understanding of past and current events. Advanced analytics can then leverage that understanding to accurately predict future events and recommend courses of action to achieve or avoid particular outcomes. It’s this ability to predict future events that makes data science such an exciting discipline and creates the promise of many valuable uses.
Data science is helping communities reduce the rate and volume of criminal activity, instructing farmers to restrict the use of fertilizers and pesticides to specific, multi-factor-dependent levels, and recommending tactics for businesses to maximize demand and profitability. Data science is rapidly becoming part of our daily lives and influencing (if not fundamentally changing) how we live, work and play.
Health care organizations are actively employing data science too, using advanced analytics to identify at-risk patients and recommend preventative care. Patient portals are a natural implementation of data science in health care, delivering specific instruction and education to particular patients based upon a wealth of information mined from deep dives into big data.
How data science can empower patient portals to improve patient care
Patient portals are effective tools to share information between health care providers and patients at times convenient to both parties. As a communications tool, portals are used in support of clinical communication such as immunization records, lab results, requesting prescription refills and conveying discharge instructions, as well as reinforcing follow-up care and sharing at-home test readings. Portals also support consumer-related communication such as setting appointments, making payments and updating contact information.
The opportunity with data science is to advance patient portals beyond basic communication to be an active part of ongoing and preventative care, tailored to the needs of each patient.
Health care organizations are using data science to dig deep into big data such as family history, lifestyle, past illness and treatment, current medications and lab results to empower health care professionals to identify patients at greater risk of disease and re-admittance, leading to opportunities in preventative care and health education. This is where patient portals can change the way health care is provided beyond the physician’s office — creating an interactive environment tailored to each patient’s communication and education needs.
With cloud computing, SaaS applications and the proliferation of smart devices, more is known about consumer behaviors than ever before. Physicians and health care organizations of all specialty and type are finding ways to improve access and quality of care through technology advances.
As mandated patient portal implementations get underway, the opportunity is to move beyond rudimentary Meaningful Use requirements by employing data science as a secret weapon to create better clinical outcomes, improve population health and empower individuals to actively participate in their care. Stated another way, the opportunity is to evolve the patient relationship to the level of active partner with the health care provider by employing data science as an indispensable tool within the health care plan.
Patient portals aren’t just mandates; they’re good business, and data science raises them to the greatest level of participation in patient care.
Eugene Borukhovich is an international expert on healthcare information technology innovation. He is the founder and organizer of Health 2.0 NYC and Health 2.0 Amsterdam and is a leading advocate in healthcare consumer issues and open health data. He currently serves as VP Healthcare, European Markets at SoftServe, Inc., and can be followed on Twitter at @HealthEugene.
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