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October 02, 2018
Taming data—the next EMR frontier
By: Frode Huse Gjendem

In my view, the next electronic medical record (EMR) frontier is the taming of data. Numerous new sources of medical data are about to flood the industry and challenge healthcare providers. Medical data from innovative health-wearables will soon be recognised as a natural part of any medical assessment, while in the long term, traditional sources of data and wearables will likely be complemented by sensors using nanotechnology and quantum computing.

In the short term, taming of data will require some key steps.

  • Firstly, the flow and quality of medical data must be organised, absorbing and interpreting the flood of data that is starting to come from wearable devices and other sensors. Non-standardised data must be standardised following a compressive—but not complex—ontology, and the utilisation of unstructured data must become a reality so that progress in innovation and medical progress can be tracked.

  • Then, new data sources need to be integrated into existing EHR-systems in order for their data to be used by the medical community.

  • Finally, the healthcare industry needs to prepare for a future that includes nanotechnology and quantum computing and could enable measurement and diagnosis of illnesses in entirely new ways. In such a world, thousands of quantum-computing nanobots could provide data from an entire system (say, the cardiovascular system) to inform diagnoses from the very site of the condition being combatted. This futuristic scenario will be dealt with in more detail in my next blog

Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health confirms the increasing adoption of wearable devices and Artificial Intelligence-based home sensors. It also confirms that there is already more demand for such digital health innovation than there is supply—a signal of the flood to come. Across the seven countries surveyed, 72 percent of respondents said digital technology is either somewhat, or very, important to managing their health, and 82 percent said they are open to using wearable technology that tracks either vital signs, or fitness and lifestyle—or both. Yet only 18 percent have received some form of virtual healthcare, and only 10 percent say they have definitely had an experience with health-related AI.

I strongly believe healthcare providers should, ideally, already be building the systems to deal with abundant sensor patient data, while preparing for a long-term future where, for example, nanotechnology-sourced patient data becomes the key driver of diagnosis and care.

The question, then, is: “How does this new EMR data frontier enable different value propositions and challenge health organisations in terms of managing the data?” Well, unstructured data is being used by market leaders to find health risks, reduce foreseeable, preventable episodes (especially in chronic patients) and fraud detection (in cases where patients abuse sick leave, or doctors over-supply care, for example), among other things. New technology allows good ROI by using sensor patient data (connecting people to devices that are connected via the Internet and Bluetooth) inside and outside hospitals.

Data, properly tamed, will enable both pre-condition health management and post-condition treatment. I estimate that, within the next seven years, sensor-driven health data analytics will become a primary driver of diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the development of intelligence engines will enable doctors to interpret incoming huge volumes of data, or evaluate the potential to acquire a disease, in a healthy person, and fully understand the data from diagnosis to treatment and outcome. Are you ready for the new normal in healthcare? Let me know what you think.

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