The 600-Hour Data Dilemma For Healthcare

5/9/13

The healthcare industry is slow moving. While beginning to adopt technology for logistical issues including electronic medical records and appointment scheduling, the focus of these efforts is narrow and off-base. True impact on human health now requires technology architecture which addresses the critical data issues faced by the healthcare industry today.

Over the last 10 years the healthcare data dilemma has unfolded to the detriment of the patient. The sad statistic: A primary care physician spends an average of 11 minutes with each patient. Currently, more than half of all patients do not get the recommended treatment necessary for their condition. More alarming; a staggering 40 million patients each year are faced with the potential consequences of delayed or inadequate care due to critical, missing information such as historical examinations, test results and medical reports.

Ironically, at the same time, medicine is experiencing its greatest advancements in human history. Over 34,000 new references are added to the National Library of Medicine every month, more than 500,000 new medical articles are published each year, and there are more than 100,000 scientific journals currently in publication. There are 30,000 new clinical trials funded each year; more than 50 starting every day, somewhere in the world.

What becomes of this unprecedented wealth of information? While a good deal of it might be available, it is generally not truly accessible as it lives behind paid subscription firewalls. Assuming a general practitioner paid for access to all the information available today (fiscally not feasible), staying current would still be impossible. If the practitioner were to spend just five minutes reading each new article published on primary care, this would amount to a ridiculous 600 hours each month.

So where does that leave the patient?

For the patient to be justly served, the healthcare industry must be open to a new model; leveraging the technology, scientific and academic communities. The new model enables engagement across all elements of human health; applying the most current findings from research and clinical studies worldwide to the results of individual patient data analysis, including genomic variation and metabolic functions, to achieve the best possible outcome for their health conditions. The new model enables doctors to partner with researchers, statisticians and mathematicians to collaboratively review and impact patient evaluations and treatment recommendations, providing a truly global, comprehensive and efficient healthcare experience. The new model is transparent and accessible for patients, engaging them in a pro-active way. Imagine the impact this strategy could have in the case of a serious illness; patient outcomes could potentially be dramatically changed.

Patients themselves seem more comfortable with the new model than the healthcare industry. With sites like www.patientslikeme.com booming it is clear that there is a desire by patients to have more information driven by technology. Patients are becoming smarter and more empowered and are taking matters into their own hands.

Innovation in the healthcare industry has been left in the hands of the well-meaning but ill-equipped healthcare people; doctors, nurses and administrators, whose expertise lies in treating and facilitating the care of patients, not technological architecture. In today’s environment, people alone are unable to manage this information overload; unable to take advantage of the wealth of scientific data available. As a result, the medical industry is failing the patient; depriving them of the best potential outcomes, while the solutions continue to lie just out of reach. It’s time for the new model.

Jaan Tallinn is the chairman of the board of New York-based MetaMed. Tallinn is one of the programmers behind the Kazaa file sharing platform, and a founding engineer of Skype. Follow @

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