A recent Pew Research study revealed that 7 in 10 U.S. adults track their health data (a growing number use digital health apps and devices), yet only 1 in 10 share that data with a clinician. This begs the question: in a world where consumers are compelled to share everything from thoughts on celebrity gossip to well-orchestrated videos of themselves being doused with buckets of ice water, do we have a sharing problem? Clearly not. We have a data access problem.
Patients don’t have a simple mechanism and compelling reason for sharing their digital health data with healthcare professionals. Likewise, healthcare professionals don’t have a systematic way of accessing actionable patient generated health data. This disconnect inhibits clinicians from providing preventative care, making more informed patient decisions, uncovering medical breakthroughs, and gaining valuable insights into high-risk patients’ day-to-day activities.
As an emerging and powerful market force, the personalized health movement presents an occasion to construct a revised healthcare system free of silos. We as an industry must consider this opportunity and concentrate efforts on bridging the digital health divide in the near term to avoid exacerbating, and potentially eliminate, health data portability challenges. So, how do we accomplish this?
The Case for Open Data
Recent open data initiatives such as the Open FDA, the efforts of the Health Data Consortium, and standards organizations such as Open mHealth have resulted in collaboration around how digital health data can be utilized in the provision of care. Open data programs like these are key to the future success and financial viability of the healthcare system by providing entrepreneurs, researchers, and clinicians access to large datasets and standard workflows to perform population analysis, aspiring to leading to discovery of otherwise opaque trends and causal relationships.