I hate to be the voice that repeats what others are saying, however it was recently stated in the Wall Street Journal and has been retweeted in the digital health echo-chamber: “Data is the currency of healthcare”…and it is liquid. Liquid gold. It can be packaged, repurposed and traded for big money.
It hit me right between the eyes last year at the HIMSS conference – : who were all these people, and what were they peddling? What are they making and what were they selling? Data-Gold. As a doctor on the front lines, I had a sinking feeling and the cold realization that while all the razzle-dazzle on the exhibition floor (complete with models, give-aways and million dollar booths), the data that was being traded was collected by doctors and provided by patients. Simply put, patients are data and the doctors role is to collate, codify and create meta-data. That is, doctors synthesize thedata presented and generate more data (diagnosis, treatment) which we then enter into a machine (electronic medical record). That little machine is connected to some tubes and wires and the data defies gravity and heads straight up to the cloud.
The image that continues to torture my imagination is an army doctors, running from room to room on the proverbial hamster wheel of medicine entering data up to the cloud where nymphs with gold cups of champagne and data/analytics CEO’s were bathing in hundred dollar bills chortling merrily at their successes (on the backs of the data collectors).
While the Sugar Data’s mint cash, doctors are told they can expect decreasing reimbursement for the next decade.
Encyclopedia Britannica is a cautionary tale for doctors (and patients). They had all the data but did not understand it’s value when digitized. Wikipedia ate their lunch. I had lunch the other day with a physician employed by a foundation and was flummoxed to hear that her $5,000 performance bonus check was going to the foundation, not her. She had no idea, nor any access to the performace data and had it not been for an accidental letter sent to her about the check, she would have never known. Ah, the dark art of data control. If we as a society don’t get this digital health data ownership correct, actors will be creating the health version of credit default swaps. oy.