Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wisdom Wednesday: Data Silos in Healthcare

A health data divide between clinicians and data scientists is wasting precious medical research and healthcare resources, hampering innovation and resulting in poorer outcomes than would otherwise be achievable.

That’s the conclusion of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Critical Data group, an affiliation of research labs at MIT focused specifically on data that has a critical impact on human health.

As the use of IT and data grows within healthcare, the researchers suggest that data science should be included in the core curriculum during medical school and residency training.

Despite the digitization of healthcare and abundance of health data from disparate sources including EHRs, mobile devices and wearables, they say the fundamental quality, safety and cost challenges of providing care have not been resolved and that better use of clinical data has the potential to address these issues.

According to Leo Anthony Celi, MD, head of the MIT Critical Data group, the problem is that a lot of the data exists in silos and is not integrated. He believes that the idea of data sharing is still foreign in healthcare because of stubborn cultural barriers that continue to stand in the way of science and progress.

“If we are to learn as a healthcare system, there has to be more data integration and harmonization,” contends Celi. “There is a persistent gap between the clinicians required to understand the clinical relevance of the data and the data scientists who are critical to extracting useable information from the increasing amount of healthcare data that are being generated” wrote Celi in a recent viewpoint article published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

When it comes to health IT, the researchers charge that medicine has “clumsily entered” the digital age.

My Take:
The United States is way behind on IT data integration in health care. We just changed to the ICDA 10 coding system to help facilitate the gathering of data in 2015. The rest of the world adopted this format 20 years ago.

The problem begins with research funding. Although it has improved the last few years, too much of the research is funded by Big Pharm and other special interests who choose the outcome and pay researchers to manipulate the data to support that outcome. Slanted research on statin drug therapy and safety of immunization are prime examples.

I’ve become so jaded that unless the research outcome bucks the established standards, I tend to dismiss it. Unfortunately, those in mainstream health care do just the reverse.

The standard of health care is slowly moving in the direction supported by the data. Physicians involved in research and administration, like Dr. Celi at MIT, are pushing their agenda forward. I just wonder who is listening?

I have a distinct advantage in that I look at data every day for my blog. The constant searching keeps me more informed than most. But it’s a “clumsily” system to navigate.

The Bottom Line:
The recommendation to require data analysis in the core curriculum of medical schools is a start. That gives us hope for the future, but if we want to change the healthcare culture in my lifetime, data analysis needs to be mandated in continuing education for all health care providers.

Source: January 4, 2017 Health Data Management

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