Data Access and Equity: How Secure Engagement Data Sharing Makes for Healthier Patients

We’re in a new healthcare landscape. Hospitals and health systems face escalating pressures from various sources: a critical labor shortage, an increasingly consumer-driven marketplace, and stiff competition from technology behemoths new to the space like Amazon and Walmart.

Amid these challenges, though, a crucial resource is often underutilized: patient data. Through the effective and secure collection, synthesis, and movement of data—the right kind of data, that is—hospital leaders can improve patient experience, boost retention, and enhance healthcare outcomes significantly.

Data lies at the heart of modern healthcare. It shapes everything from patient diagnosis to treatment plans, and even affects overall hospital performance. But how can data be leveraged to its full potential to meet the challenges the industry faces today?

It is essential to understand that the term ‘patient data’ is not confined merely to clinical parameters. The insights gained from patient engagement interactions, such as patient rounding or post-discharge outreach, offer a rich source of information about the patient’s experiences, feelings, and needs. This ‘conversational data’ provides a human dimension to the quantitative clinical data, offering a more complete picture of the patient’s health journey.

Information gleaned from patient rounding, for example, can offer valuable insights into comfort levels, concerns, and understanding of treatment plans. Similarly, data from post-discharge outreach can help hospital leaders understand—based on real data—trends and patterns relating to the real-world challenges patients face, among those their social determinants of health, once they leave the hospital. In turn, caregivers can make informed decisions that reduce readmission rates, improve outcomes, and foster health equity.

By overlaying this conversational data onto clinical data, we can go beyond the conventional understanding of patients based solely on their medical history or diagnostics. A patient suffering from a chronic condition might have all the necessary clinical support but could be struggling with an inability to pay or feelings of isolation. This comprehensive view enables healthcare providers to tailor their approach and address these concerns proactively, consequently increasing patient engagement.

This personalized care is increasingly what patients expect. They want to be more than just passive receivers of care; they want to be active participants. When hospitals have access to holistic patient views, built on multiple data sources and available securely across systems, there are more opportunities to personalize care and keep patients better informed of their health status and the reasons behind certain treatment decisions.

The benefits of this patient involvement are twofold. First, it improves patient engagement, as they feel more connected to their healthcare journey. When patients understand their health better, they are more likely to follow through with treatments and preventive measures. Secondly, it allows healthcare providers to tailor care to the specific needs of the patient.

Transparency breeds trust, which in turn encourages patients to become active participants in their care. When patients feel more involved, they are likely to adhere better to treatment plans, leading to improved outcomes.

Equity is another crucial aspect. By overlaying socioeconomic data with clinical and conversational data, providers can uncover valuable insights into the social determinants of health that significantly impact patients’ well-being. Armed with this knowledge, they can develop tailored interventions and strategies to overcome specific barriers faced by disadvantaged populations, ultimately bridging gaps in health equity.

Moreover, data security and cohesion can enable seamless information exchange across healthcare settings, contributing to improved coordination and continuity of care. This is particularly beneficial for marginalized populations that often experience fragmented healthcare journeys.

However, implementing such a data sharing program isn’t without its challenges. It requires a robust data security framework to ensure patient information remains confidential and is not subject to breaches.

The fusion of clinical and engagement data can revolutionize the way we understand and treat patients. By optimizing data collection and synthesis, securely sharing data, and ensuring equitable access, we can make significant strides towards delivering more personalized, effective, and patient-centered care.

This is more than a theoretical exercise or an idealistic vision. These changes are achievable and necessary if we are to meet the evolving needs of patients and rise to the industry’s current challenges.

By creating a more holistic understanding of our patients, we not only enhance their individual health outcomes but contribute to a broader goal: a healthier, more engaged patient population, equipped to navigate their healthcare journeys confidently.

Photo: metamorworks, Getty Images