In the healthcare industry, as in just about everything else in life, data is vital for understanding, providing a roadmap for goals and help enlighten events of the future. Finding the right healthcare data solution to handle all the data is a task that needs to be researched and one that will take some time. There are so many people, both inside and out of the organization that need and utilize that data, thus it is extremely important that data is treated correctly.
When talking about data and the storage, access, protection and application of it, healthcare is an industry that hasn’t implemented many of the software technology available to improve care and take care of inefficiencies within the system. Maybe it was because the old way of doing things, such as only keeping hard copies of patient’s medical records, seemed to work fine, and the thought of putting all that information into a database or data warehouse was going to cost time, effort and require a new way of doing business. A mandate from the government changed this mentality, and for the better: now, all organizations, no matter how big or small they are, must keep digital copies of health records to ensure that information can be shared much more quickly and to just about anywhere around the world.
It isn’t as easy as going to BestBuy and picking up a copy of Microsoft Office. In fact, the complexities of each healthcare organization, along with the standards, goals and requirements don’t allow for an out-of-the-box sort of solution. Some hospitals and clinics have a lot more patients without healthcare or on Medicare, while others are able to provide every kind of specialty care available. You add in the fact that cities, counties and states have differing requirements to fulfil, and the picture becomes a little clearer as to how a cookie-cutter program won’t work.
A healthcare data solution isn’t just a place where information is stored and can produce a few reports as needed. The demands within a healthcare organization go much further, much deeper and provide essential insight from all the data gathered. If you think about all of what goes into a single patient’s health record, it isn’t just a file of doctor visits and prescriptions, but will include:
- Doctor’s notes - which might voice recordings, scanned or typed notes
- Images – especially x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, etc.
- Test results – from bloodwork to allergy tests
- Medications and doses
- Treatment plans and visits
- Financial and insurance information
All of this adds up to a picture of the health of the patient, information that will be submitted for payments, details to show care standards had been met, and ways in which the organization can provide better, more efficient care. So, there has to be some idea where the organization wants to head, some of the goals that would be ideal to meet, and possible growth in the foreseeable future. This kind of understanding will help when searching out and then sitting down with a healthcare data solutions vendor; not everything has to be defined up front, but the more knowledge of the how the organization is run and where it is going, the easier it will be to make a decision as to what company can provide the best data solution option.
The last thing that any healthcare organization wants is to have to piecemeal a few different types of software programs together to get the results desired. This usually ends up with less than desirable result, something that doesn’t last the test of time, and frustrations from every user of the system. Obviously, budgets are a real thing that must be adhered to, but organizations and the decision-makers must understand that quality doesn’t come cheap, and something with true shelf-life does come at an expense.
Making a decision on what healthcare data solution is best takes some balance between what is affordable, what is desired and what works best for the needs. When it comes to being able to learn from the data being gathered, fulfill the necessary requirements whether they be internal or external, and truly being able to provide a better service to each and every patient, there are many things to consider, and many things to recognize within the organization. How data is treated and what it can reveal will help benefit both patient and professional, and will lead to better care, too.