The Future of Medicine Lies in Valuable Patient Data

Patient Data

The Decision is in the Data: The future of medicine lies in valuable patient data
By: Ashley Keenan

Data is invaluable in helping industry professionals become more efficient and productive, the medical cannabis industry is no exception. According to Stanford University, focusing on data in healthcare could lead to more preventive, predictive and personalized care, which in turn would reduce healthcare costs and contribute to better patient outcomes. As this sector of data is such a sensitive subject, the industry must balance data-sharing with patient privacy and trust. Through monitoring and analysis, data can then be disseminated to key stakeholders in the medical industry, and fundamentally transform the future of healthcare.

The Value of Data in Medicine

Healthcare, at its core, is driven by data. From medical research to the patient experience, there are multiple ways to utilize data in healthcare to improve ongoing care, prediction and prevention. Publicly-accessible data allows researchers to pose new questions, uncover new findings, and discover improved treatment options. According to the report by Stanford University, data will become even more essential for medical breakthroughs, creating a future of ongoing data collection from multiple sources.

Patient data is an essential component of the healthcare ecosystem, driving research, innovation and decision-making. It can inform research and innovation, prevention and treatment strategies, health promotion efforts, self-care, health systems planning and wider public health activities, behaviours and decisions. As access to this essential data grows, economic and social benefits are ready to be reaped by key stakeholders like academic researchers, industry, healthcare professionals and providers, patients and the public, payers and policymakers, regulators, charities and the third sector.

In addition to being beneficial to the key industry stakeholders, patient driven data allows patients to take control of their health outside the doctors office. With 212 million unique monthly visitors to WebMD alone, it is evident that patients are invested in accessing patient data as well. In addition to internet sources, increased use of wearable devices, at-home genetics testing, and ‘smart’ gadgets calculating everything from BMI to rest cycles have created a plethora of accessible data to empower patients in their healthcare decisions.

Data and the Healthcare Ecosystem

Data is permeating every component of the healthcare ecosystem:

Medical research: Access to new, diverse data and open datasets are fueling drug discovery and making clinical trials and research more efficient.

Daily life: Wearable devices, online diagnostic tools and genetic sequencing services hold the promise of better informed and engaged patients.

The patient experience: Health systems are investing heavily in technology, including machine learning, which is proving as effective as or more effective than human diagnosticians.

Ongoing care: Telemedicine and health apps make it possible for physicians to see patients virtually, outside of traditional facilities for increased access and tailored care.

Prediction and prevention: Health data is allowing doctors to build better patient profiles and predictive models to more effectively

Patient data is not always gathered through medical clinical trials. In fact, experts are using these new sources of data to structure clinical trials in a more economical way by using these data points to reduce the cost and length of time needed to conduct medical research. In addition to being more cost effective, recruitment for clinical trials is optimized as researchers can use data points to identify the ideal patients.

Technology companies are trying to optimize the increase in data accessibility by developing artificial intelligence systems that can analyze, diagnose, and treat health issues. These AI systems would take in the information a doctor would, such as symptoms, severity of illness, family history, and lifestyle habits. In a 2018 study by the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, they concluded that there was a component of doctor’s care that extended beyond a list of symptoms. Factors like experience, and their years of training and practice, and a general ‘gut feeling’ allowed them to more comprehensively know what tests to order for a patient.

While data technology companies won’t be replacing doctors any time soon, they provide access to invaluable information that add to the existing expertise of medical professionals. In addition to working on AI systems for diagnosis, tools like Strainprint Analytics are changing how doctors utilize the vital world of patient data. Strainprint Analytics provides industry professionals access to databases of patient outcomes,creating a holistic picture that helps stakeholders make the best decisions available for patient healthcare.