The Increasing Value of Data Integration In Healthcare

Data integration has always been a core technology in the world of healthcare.  The latest trend is to leverage data integration technology as an emerging key strategic advantage within healthcare systems.  The objective is to improve care through the use of existing and new information, and thus provide the ability to be more proactive, saving money and saving lives. 

If you think about it, as we visit doctors, get tests, or even run on the treadmill at the gym, we’re not tossing off MBs of information.  The information typically goes somewhere, and is analyzed by itself for some tactical purpose.  However, the value is actually understanding all of the data in context to determine your overall health as well as looking at any potential health problems that may only be understood with a complete view of all of the data.

The key trends driving this are rather obvious:

  • The increasing amount of diagnostic data that we generate through the use of new devices that monitor our bodies (e.g., heart rate monitors, blood pressure monitors, etc.).
  • The ability to easily share this data with physicians and clinicians, as well as store the data for further diagnostics, including trending.
  • The ability to better determine your sate-of-health by analyzing this information to find diagnostic patterns in the data that could lead to identifying health concerns before they become a real problem.

There is true value here, including the value of reducing the amount that’s spent on healthcare each year.  This puts more of the focus on preventative care, through the use of information and analytics. This raises the stakes in terms of healthcare providers getting on the ball to better leverage data they already maintain, and the new data that is now available.

A core issue that most healthcare providers need to consider when looking to make use of all of this new data is the creation of improvement to their existing data integration strategy. The use of the right data integration technology is also critical.

Data needs to be gathered from a number places, transformed in terms of structure and content, and delivered to a target system where the data can be analyzed as a whole. In some instances, the data is analyzed where it sits, aggregated into virtual structures using data virtualization and data integration technology.

The first step healthcare organizations should take is to create or update your data integration strategy. This means that you’re going to take a more holistic view of all information assets, and determine the core use cases for that data, including opportunities for analytics to provide better care. This also includes being open-minded around the use of information created by the hundreds of emerging telemetry devices that communicate to central databases in the cloud through our smart phones.

This is one of the most exciting times to be in the healthcare space. Think about the amount of changes taking place, and the opportunities to do some good for us humans.  It’s time to get on this train.

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