6 Ways Doctors are Making Better Decisions with Data

Technology has indeed come a very long way. What was considered unthinkable a few years back has now become a reality. Like in all other fields, medical science has also seen tremendous strides in the development of data analytics applications which provide the doctors and other medical personnel with valuable insights about diseases, health conditions and the medical history of their patients in order to enable them to take the correct decisions regarding the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. The patients are also hugely benefited due to this as they receive proper medical care and can go more quickly towards the road to a speedy recovery.

Data analytics tools for doctors

The various data analytics tools and applications which assist doctors in decision making include:

  • Descriptive Analytics. It identifies the various patient groups and gathers detailed information about each group regarding case studies, medical history etc in order to keep the doctors updated with the necessary patient details.
  • Comparative Analytics. This specifies and analyses the variations between the different patient groups with respect to the categorization of their health risks and the type of treatment which needs to be administered to them and its efficiency.
  • Predictive Analytics. It uses data from various medical literature sources which include best practice models, the latest scientific research and accessible databases in order to formulate a predictive model which can predict the various health issues of patients and equip the doctors with the proper knowledge on the best way to diagnose and treat the diseases.
Role of data analytics in the decision making process

Data analytics plays a major role in assisting doctors in indentifying the individual patient needs and requirements and proceed accordingly with the treatment. Though the doctors and medical personnel are extremely knowledgeable and well-trained, they like all other human beings can make mistakes in the absence of adequate patient data or information. Here the role of this newly developed data analytics technology comes into play. Some of the ways in which doctors are using them to make better decisions include:

#1 Digital Data Records. This is the most common tool which aids doctors in the decision-making process. Here each and every patient has his or her own Electronic Health Record which contain vital information about the patient like medical history, results of laboratory tests that the patient has undergone, his or her personal details etc. The doctors are able to access these records through protected information systems from both government and private sectors. Each record consists of a file which is adjustable i.e. it enables the doctors to incorporate various changes as and when required over a definite time period without any hassles of official procedures and risk of data duplication. These Electronic Health Records can also caution and remind the doctors about the time when the patient is required to undergo a new test or check-up and follow the prescriptions in order to evaluate the patient’s progress and his level of compliance with the doctor’s orders. The Healthcare Alliance Network Premier based in the United States has more than 2700 members, hospitals and health facilities and about 400,000 physicians are estimated to maintain a data record of at least one in every 4 patients released from hospitals.

#2 Provides Real Time Alerts. This method plays a very important role in assisting doctors with the decision making process. A special type of software known as the Clinical Decision Support Software analyses medical information right on the spot in hospitals giving valuable insights and recommendations to the doctors as they take decisions regarding the treatment such as prescribing medicines to the patient. North York General Hospital which is a 450 bed community teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada has been reportedly using real time analytics for better decision making.

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#3 Personal Analytics Applications. These apps are able to gather information regarding the patient’s health on a continuous basis and dispatch to the cloud. With the help of this information, the patients can provide the doctors with extremely useful insights regarding their health issues and the ways and means of properly diagnosing and treating them. Also, this data can be accessed to the database regarding the health conditions of the public in general and this will enable the doctors to evaluate this information from the perspective of the society at large and make the necessary changes in the strategies of providing effective treatment and proper healthcare to the patients. With the help of advanced technological tools the doctors can track this huge collection of information and take the required steps whenever the outcomes are not equal to the standards. For instance, if a particular patient’s blood sugar or cholesterol levels rises drastically , this system will automatically send a real time alert to the doctor so that he can administer the proper treatment in time to lower the blood sugar or cholesterol levels of the patient.

#4 Tools for effective predictive analytics. A research collaborative based in the United States (Optum Labs) has gathered the Electronic Health Records of over 30 million patients to create a predictive analytics tools database that will assist the doctors in providing better quality healthcare. With the help of this tool, doctors can take the right decisions in a matter of seconds and deliver better healthcare to their patients. Patient with serious health disorders would benefit the most from this. These tools will also be able to predict things like which patient is more prone to a certain type of disease like cancer and which patient has to undergo additional treatment and health check-ups for a particular medical condition.

#5 Analytical tools help in devising effective strategies for development. These tools enable the doctors and healthcare professionals to be aware of the motivations and other psychological factors that drive the patients. The reports of the health check- ups can be evaluated among patients of various ages, genders etc in order find out the reasons that influence and prevent them from seeking medical help.

In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 Dr. Alan Shatzel, medical director of the Mercy Telehealth Network, is displayed on the monitor RP-VITA robot as he waits to confer with Dr. Alex Nee at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael, Calif. The robots enable physicians to have  "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 Dr. Alan Shatzel, medical director of the Mercy Telehealth Network, is displayed on the monitor RP-VITA robot as he waits to confer with Dr. Alex Nee at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael, Calif. The robots enable physicians to have “beam” themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

#6 Delivery of inaccessible clinical services with the help of technology. With the advent of modern technological gadgets like smart phones, doctors can operate by employing artificial intelligence tools like robots and can get access to vital information at very high speeds even without being physically present with the patient. These apps enable the doctors to devise strategies for providing personalized healthcare to patients and reduce their chances of hospitalization, thereby curbing health care costs and saving precious time. For example in the United States, the results from data analytics tools at its healthcare alliance network has helped in reducing healthcare-related expenses by an estimated $ 7 billion. These also play a crucial role in helping doctors to provide better quality healthcare by predicting serious medical conditions in time before the patient’s condition gets too severe. This also eliminates the needs for unnecessary and time-taking procedures such as paperwork and other formalities and ensures timely delivery of healthcare services to the patients. Healthcare also becomes much more accessible with these data analytics tools as the patient’s health condition can be evaluated and the doctors can be consulted at any time and place.

In the United States the results from Data Analytics Tools at its healthcare alliance network have assisted and improved the quality of healthcare at roughly 330 hospitals, thereby saving about 29,000 lives. So it has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that data analytics tools have vastly improved decision making among doctors. The health risks due to wrong diagnosis and treatment which the patients were exposed to earlier have now been mitigated to a great extent because of timely availability of data provided by these tools. This new technology has the capability to save countless lives and should rightfully be considered as the future of medical treatment and diagnosis.

Nowadays, all doctors have to familiarize themselves with this technology and learn to adapt in an environment where medical decision making has become digitized and personalized. Thus, these technologies can revolutionize the world of medicine and healthcare and pave the way for a world where people live much longer and healthier lives due to the easy availability of much more effective and efficient healthcare services.

For the doctors, this could save them from various legal hassles due to administering the wrong treatment and enable them to dedicate more time to their patients and provide better services. To conclude, with the help of this technology both patients and doctors will be hugely benefited and the world will become a safer and healthier place.

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Arindam Chatterjee

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