One of the major challenges the healthcare industry faces is data. The Information Technology department at the Food and Drug Administration is developing a data hub, Data Warehouse 3.0, which will eventually provide patient and physician-specific data to help guide healthcare decision-making across the country.
Initially, the data repository will house charts, data, and imaging of all of the diseases that people can currently be treated for, as well as epidemiology information. The data warehouse will eventually include demographic and lifestyle information, along with radiologic and magnetic resonance imaging data, while additionally including magnetic resonance imaging data for comparison purposes. The data will feed a series of services, including an online portal, home-based clinical solutions, and healthcare information services.
The site will allow patients and caregivers to see their history of illness and its side effects, as well as access information about existing treatments and drugs, real-time scans and X-rays, advice about upcoming procedures, and information about treatment centers and pharmacies.
There are a few implementations that can directly benefit from the data hub, including genetic testing. Physicians can see genetic information, in a standardized format, which will assist in personalized treatment and medicine. Physicians can also pull genetic information from insurers, which provides greater oversight and maintenance of certain policies as a result.
The National Cancer Institute will be one of the many organizations in the community to utilize the new information technology and clinical analytics. Its publications will be able to gather and aggregate all of the health data on their recipients, with a view to improving outcomes.
Hospitals are another source of health data, and they are able to use this information to predict health outcomes more accurately. Diabetes, in particular, is an area of intense interest among the hospitals. The hospital has done enough research to use the information for proper diagnosis and treatment, but they would also like to know what is wrong with patients in advance of a diagnosis.
Useful clinical care providers are more common than ever, and patient contact is easier than ever. Surgery centers use smartphone apps to send GPS coordinates to nearby surgeons, and access to eHealth informs most of the physicians and hospitals about how much of what patients want and need to know.
A large proportion of Americans currently do not seek medical care for certain conditions, such as infections, mental illness, and prescription drug problems. But the data hub will allow patients and their families to easily access information about these conditions and get the help they may need.
As social structures, businesses, the public at large, and healthcare providers work together to improve access to quality health care, it becomes a larger, better public good. Millions of people will eventually receive better care for illnesses, conditions, and diseases, and this will drastically improve their quality of life. The technology being developed is extremely important for the healthcare community to help address some of the major challenges the sector currently faces. With the data hub’s future enhancement possibilities, it should be seen as an important tool by both patients and healthcare providers.
Anne Katharine McCoy is a General Fellow at the Information Technology department of the Food and Drug Administration and the senior strategy manager at ServicesUSA, Inc.
This story was originally published by Newsweek.