For many, the terms digitization and healthcare are still two separate areas, and this despite the fact that at the same time, the personal collection of health data via smartphones and wearables continues to increase.
Counting steps, measuring heart rate and blood sugar, and tracking sleep quality – health data has long been managed not only by medical staff. However, this individually collected health data is often not available to the attending physicians when it comes to diagnosis and treatment, but also to research data. Yet digital networking in the healthcare system brings with it numerous optimization potentials. The more data and patient information available, the more effectively it can help identify current challenges, improve treatment options and speed up decision-making processes. And a solid database with better and more in-depth data not only saves personnel, time and thus costs, but also improves treatment options for patients.
A particularly good example is rare diseases, where the number of cases is often insufficient for clinical studies. Each additional data set thus helps to advance research and development of therapies, because the majority of all rare diseases are still incurable.
Consistent data collection also makes it possible to obtain an overview of the general health status of the entire population, which plays a decisive role in the implementation of preventive measures.
The data protection debate
However, when we talk about data collection, data protection must always be considered as well. As the presence of digitization in the healthcare sector increases, the public debate about data protection guidelines will also continue to grow. Currently, according to a survey by the opinion research institute Civey, only three percent perceive increased digitization in healthcare in their everyday lives. At the same time, the majority of respondents – regardless of sector – are in favor of greater data protection in digitization. This contrasts with the fact that almost half of those working in healthcare see the data protection debate as the biggest hurdle to digitization in the industry.
The fact is: the healthcare sector is dependent on (innovative) digital solutions to ensure and continuously optimize the care of all patients, even in times of acute staff shortages.
The project “PATH – Personal Control of Health and Wellness Data” aims to develop a privacy-compliant platform to connect personal health data in patient records with separately collected data from smartwatches or sensors. This is because the digital transformation of healthcare depends on optimized data collection and interconnectivity. The project partners want to create a coordinated, transparent infrastructure for the exchange of individually generated health data, thereby enabling meaningful use of this data in the future. At the same time, everyone is thus able to control their own data and track where and how it is used. In doing so, the data will be made available completely anonymously via the platform and can be applied in shared use across all medical disciplines.
The platform will have the potential to improve communication between patients and treating physicians, facilitate clinical discussions between doctors and nurses, and increase the efficiency of emergency care, thus contributing to the digital transformation of the German healthcare system.
Also take a look at our study “Digital Health Platforms” to learn more about the opportunities in the digital health market or contact us directly for an exchange.