In today’s digital world, health care is in a time of major transition. Eighty percent of doctors now have deployed electronic health records. Health information exchanges are starting to share data and undertake analysis that helps people learn in real-time. And patients are getting more engaged with their medical treatment through Internet searches, medical chatrooms, and social media conversations.
In this paper, Darrell West and Niam Yaraghi argue that there are substantial opportunities to move health care into an evidence-based model using health information technology, social collaboration, and advanced data analytics. Yet there remain a number of challenges in order to gain the benefits of the information revolution. West and Yaraghi urge addressing problems in terms of interoperability, privacy, and security to make necessary progress.
Six ideas and policy recommendations for the future of health care include:
- Utilizing big data tools: These tools are vital for the future development of medicine as they allow databases to be stratified and randomized and speed up the research process.
- Increasing interoperability and tracking patients across health care systems: Advancing data sharing networks integrates information from different sources and creates a 360 degree outlook on patient conditions.
- Improving consumer education: The quality of interface design and user friendliness of medical applications of hand held devices can encourage patients and physicians to increase their level of use.
- Implementing a diverse set of records with online patient access: A well-designed health records system would enable patients to electronically record, store, monitor, and share many different kinds of health related data such as diet, exercise level, and blood pressure.
- Ensuring privacy: Our technology is ahead of the culture and this poses certain risks in how we handle consumer information. New policies and regulations should ensure that medical data is only used for their intended purpose with patient consent.
- Recognizing the reality of third party consultations: As medical care gets more complicated, patients may turn to third parties for health advice. Consumers should be provided with enough information to educate themselves about risks arising from new players and practices.