There’s no slowing down this healthcare train as it rumbles faster and faster toward personalization. Apple Health, smartphones, smart watches, Alexa-based smart digital therapeutics, even the EHRs—these are all gaining ubiquity as American lives become more digital. And as they do, they’ll continue to feed more and more information into the healthcare ecosystem.
But while personalization of care is increasingly enabled by the growing number of data sources, it’s rooted in the same single principle that has always guided great healthcare: treating patients like people. Let’s unpack that.
There’s a growing web of data points holding the promise to bring the healthcare ecosystem together more than ever before. But data systems are only useful if they talk to each other, which they often don’t. In a world without interoperability, data doesn’t illuminate—it only obfuscates. And the data itself is also only useful if it’s driving decisions. But even as every day around the globe some fantastic digitally native companies are being founded that are parsing data into usable insights, we still have a long way to go.
Curating Patient Resources
That’s why in 2020, providers who are cutting through the data clutter and finding ways to both collate data sources and curate patient resources are rising as the cream of the physician crop.
Dr. Jack Pinney, Medical Director of WellSport at MidMichigan Health Medical Center, says that one of the keys to achieving this is all about one of the oldest bedside tricks in the book: listening.
“You have to take all of the factors [like their financial resources, their personal desires, etc.] into account,” he says, “when you’re developing the overall care plan for that patient. It’s not just a care plan for a particular disease. It’s a care plan we think [this individual patient is] going to be successful with.”
A decade ago, what often separated a good physician from a great one was their ability to ask the right questions—the answers of which often held the keys to unlocking affordability and adherence. In those olden days, the data points might have been as simple as whether a patient could afford a certain treatment, or whether they had the desire to change a certain behavior. Today, the data points are myriad and growing every day. But the great physicians still retain that remarkable ability to cut through the data clutter—to probe the source itself when needed, or to consult an outside reference when necessary—to address the determinants, social or otherwise, of health.
Using Health Insights to Inform Better Outcomes
It’s also the same focus on adherence that often leads to better outcomes. “[After I’ve developed a plan, then] I have to ask myself how I can help those patients be successful. What data, what instruments, what affordable coupons—I have to take all of that into account. Otherwise, I’m kidding myself that they’re going to be adhering to this fantastic plan that I just came up with.”
"After I’ve developed a plan, then I have to ask myself how I can help those patients be successful. What data, what instruments, what affordable coupons—I have to take all of that into account. Otherwise I’m kidding myself that they’re going to be adhering to this fantastic plan that I just came up with.”
Today, the data points are broader in scope, and they come from an always-growing variety of sources. But great pharma products have always been built on data, and providers have always been zealots for care driven by cold, hard facts. And as great physicians learn to meld the high tech and the high touch, building great care plans that merge data and discernment, true personalization will emerge as a force driving great care. They’ll do it the same way great care providers have always done it—by being great listeners.
While they do, we’ll be right beside them, connecting them with information that matters, at just the right time, to build better outcomes for more patients.