Efficient Data Management in the Healthcare Space
By Jim Simpson, SVP & CIO, AvMed
With the abundance of technology around every industry vertical, it may come as a surprise to many that there is no standardized solution for content management. Every company, not just in healthcare, has to craft a solution with what works for the organization. It is not one process fits all. You do have to make sure that there is accuracy in what you are saying. You have to maintain consistency in what you say, across all the platforms. Whenever you want to make a change to a digital platform, it is important to do multiple tests before you make the changes and you need to make sure that you do not mess with the content.
Generic Challenges Surrounding Data Management
The first challenge is security. All of our content that we trace in our database pertains to medical history and patient identification information, which need to be highly protected. Our people understand the importance of protecting personal information. That’s one of the things in content management we are dealing with, that is, people’s personal information. The second challenge is to allow the people who are using our portal to get their questions answered without having to pick up the phone and call a member services representative. Members accessing our website or our portal should be able to see any information they want, in a manner that they can understand. That ultimately reduces our costs. So making sure we keep our content clear and understandable cuts down the costs.
"I see that wearables are going to substantially change the way that healthcare functions"
The next issue is that healthcare is highly regulated. There’s a lot of communication that happens to our members, customers, and our providers. All of that is regulated, especially in an operating environment. It has some mandates about things that you must do. So, when we talk about content management, it is not just making sure that we are getting the right message out, but also in a way where it meets regulatory requirements. We have a group that manages all of our internal health data and makes sure it gets put in the right formats, for our business to use, for us to understand the trends and what’s going on. Also, some of the data and the content needs to be sent to the nurses and the doctors who are reviewing that and we need to make sure they have the information that they need.
Existing Technologies that are Helping to Manage Data in Healthcare
We have telemedicine, where you can go to our website from a desktop or a mobile device and can actually click on a link and be taken to a doctor who will come on a video chat to have a conversation about what is going on. The doctor then prescribes medicines for them. That helps prevent a patient to go to the doctor’s office all the way. It takes few minutes for the doctor to come online; that’s a massive change in healthcare. It’s also a huge change in content management, for a doctor to get access to information instantly and to be able to treat an individual faster.
Technologies that will Rule the Space
The healthcare industry is lagging a bit when it comes to utilizing technology. However, over the last few years, particularly in the last 24 months, we are seeing a lot of technology that is hitting the streets. We are seeing a lot of changes within the FDA on wearable technology. I fully believe that in the next five years, you will be able to measure your blood sugar or get an electrocardiogram done and monitor your heart, with just a device that you wear on your wrist. If you have a heart attack, your device will immediately be able to call somebody and say you are in distress. But the question is, where does that data go? Who receives that call? Who is the coordinator that will handle that? And then coordinate that with the insurance companies, with the physicians or with hospitals. There’s a lot of additional infrastructure involved in this futuristic workflow, and it’s going to force a lot of changes in the healthcare industry, in the way we take care of people.
Technology is moving from somebody going to the doctor sometime after the symptoms have appeared, to being almost proactive by being able to wear something that can tell us if you’re having an issue going on and get that information to the doctor. For example, if you have irregularities in your blood pressure, the device will measure it, and send that data in real time. It measures, not just when you walk into your doctor’s for a checkup, but 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It can help get the required information from those metrics and see what’s going on and more accurately prescribe blood pressure medicine. This is just an instance, but I see that wearables are going to substantially change the way how healthcare functions.
Key Principles as a Leader
I expect people to make mistakes because, if you are not making mistakes, you don’t have the opportunity to learn from them. It is also important to remember not to be afraid to find people that are smarter than you. I bring in people who I think are much smarter than I am and have them make important decisions.