Smart data integration can help increase the quality of data-driven decision making, especially in scenarios where clinical decision makers face multiple barriers and challenges on the patient path. And this is vital in today’s digitized healthcare environment, where the quality of decision making depends on the quality and availability of the underlying data.

In medicine, decision-making has a clear goal: for the benefit of the patient. Decisions in healthcare are shaped by professional standards, expert knowledge, patient wishes and therapeutic options.

Achieving this goal increasingly depends on the intelligent use of medical data. The steadily growing, multi-dimensional range of health data from electronic medical records, image databases and other multi-layered, often fragmented IT systems is becoming more and more important in order to make contemporary, patient-oriented decisions and to design care processes accordingly.

Of course, not all medical decisions are necessarily difficult. In some uncomplicated care situations, professional medical knowledge is sufficient to find an expedient solution so that decisions are easy. Decision-making becomes more complex as the number of diagnoses and treatment options, the volume of relevant patient data and the risk of complications increase.

The challenge in a complex case is to integrate a variety of data from different sources, such as clinical, radiological or laboratory information; genetic and pathological findings; and insights into behavioral and social conditions so that the decision meets the highest quality standards and takes into account the personal situation and preferences of the patient.

Medical decisions are made along the continuum of care, from initial clinical contact to follow-up care. The questions healthcare providers need to ask themselves are:

  • What should be done diagnostically and therapeutically?
  • How can I use my resources efficiently in the process?
  • Who should I share and coordinate information with in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient?

Digital technologies can improve decision-making in all these dimensions and offer valuable decision-making aids along the patient path.

Complex decisions can fail for various reasons. Patient data may not be accessible or it may be too large and unstructured. Information could be overlooked. Policies may not be adequately executed. These challenges can lead to inefficient and costly workflows and affect clinical outcomes.

However, they can be solved with a scalable and flexible digital platform that can collect patient data from sources in various IT systems and institutions and that allows caregivers easy access to patient data across all touchpoints of the patient journey. This smart data integration can ultimately provide a more comprehensive picture of the patient and support holistic decision-making in medicine.

Today’s IT architectures must be able to continuously develop and grow with changing requirements.

Siemens Healthineers designed its digital health platform as a flexible tool that uses the increasingly important data for health care. The integrated marketplace offers access to a growing number of proprietary applications as well as curated and pre-checked partner applications from a single source, thus enabling advanced and tailor-made digitization for a variety of healthcare providers and care situations.

Digitization is certainly not just a question of technology, but also of conception. Healthcare is increasingly using a plethora of complex health data, and three changes will facilitate digital transformation:

  1. Health care providers need a digital infrastructure that is as simple as possible, but also versatile and adaptable: ideally a system-wide platform for networking data.
  2. Providers need a growing number of intelligent applications that can meaningfully apply networked data to specific operational and clinical issues.
  3. As digitization changes the way medical decision-making is made, such decisions will continue to be the responsibility of doctors and patients. Nevertheless, healthcare providers will increasingly have to resort to advanced digital decision-making aids in order to incorporate the wealth of data into their considerations and use them profitably.

Find out more about how Siemens Healthineers supports intelligent data integration and decision support along the patient path.

This content was created by Siemens Healthineers. It was not written by the editorial staff of the MIT Technology Review.

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