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How to get the most value from the health data boom

The global digital health market is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, and is expected to reach over $500 billion by 2025. Increasing demand for remote monitoring services owing to rising incidences of chronic diseases worldwide, along with favourable government initiatives and funding for adoption of digital systems, are set to fuel industry growth over the coming years.

It’s not just the value of the market that’s growing; the amount of health data that’s produced is growing exponentially too, from wellness indicators like step counts produced by wearable and mobile devices, to the increasing number of connected devices used in healthcare settings. It’s estimated that by 2020, there’ll be 2,314 exabytes of health data in existence, a massive increase on the 153 exabytes that existed in 2013. An exabyte is a billion gigabytes, so that’s an awful lot of data. In fact, 2,314 exabytes is two and a half times the total storage capacity of all the data centres in the world. So how will we benefit from this health data boom?

In order to derive the greatest value from this data (whether that’s delivering better healthcare, cheaper insurance or to prevent illness in the first place), it needs to be structured and made available in a transparent, ethical and useful way, with the patient at the heart of all decision-making.

At EMIS Health, we’re the largest processor of patient data in the UK, currently processing the GP patient records for over 34 million people. Interoperability is not only one of our key business objectives, but one of our cultural values too. Acting on behalf of our users and customers, CCGs, GPs and, in turn, the patients they serve, we’ve recently relaunched our partner programme. We’ve done this to better serve this burgeoning digital health ecosystem, whether that’s to offer new services to its healthcare professional users or to ensure patient data gets to those that need it to provide care or innovate in the healthcare space. (For companies with an interest in primary care, further details on our partner programme can be found here).

There are over 100 accredited partners in the programme now, but we know the ecosystem is growing exponentially and will be even better placed to create the step change improvements that are needed to save time and money for the NHS, and drive better patient outcomes, if collaboration with existing suppliers takes place.   

The future? Well of course nothing can happen without the right data, but don’t underestimate the importance of getting the data right. There’s also a huge amount of heavy lifting to do to maintain the required high standards of information governance, clinical safety, security and privacy. On top of that, it’s a significant engineering feat to structure data correctly, and put in place futureproofed interoperability standards and means of processing in order to make it usable and useful. Then we need to ensure we make clinician’s lives easier – not harder – to reduce the change management burden and help scale the adoption of new technologies.

Get all this right and the future looks very healthy indeed

Alexandra Eavis
Written By

Emis Health are presenting at DigiHealth Leaders, 2019. Check out their profile and the event.

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