In a recent article for Physician's Practice, Daniel Essin explains that healthcare data is not created equally because the information spans four categories that have varying purposes and data quality
requirements. These include the notes that are entered into patients' electronic health records, operational data, application-specific content and information that's been collected and molded to answer certain questions.
Essin writes that in order to truly advance the use of data for healthcare purposes, doctors need to move past their elementary tools and strategies, which he likens to capabilities needed for ecommerce sites. Basic applications are not necessarily designed for the specific information physicians are now entering and tracking.
When doctors and medical research facilities do get the right tools in their hands, there are seemingly endless possibilities. A recent Kaiser Permanente study used data from electronic health records to identify a new treatment for whooping cough that's safe for individuals over 65 years of age.
The study, which was published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, analyzed the records of 120,000 individuals and found a common thread - that the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular-pertussis vaccine (Tdap) vaccine showed similar injection-site reaction rates as are seen when patients are immunized with the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine.
Companies are rapidly investing in data analytics tools that will allow them to glean similar correlations so they can identify new solutions.