Healthcare data involves a wide variety of public and private data collection systems such as enrollment and billing records, health surveys, medical records, and administrative enrollment records. Physicians, hospitals, and health plans heavily rely upon this information when managing and treating patients.

Digital tools have completely revolutionized the way patient data is collected. Take online patient portals for instance which allow patients to access health information easily, request prescription refills, make appointments, and exchange messages with providers in an all-in-one online platform.

There is also secure text messaging (STM), a method many providers have used to remind patients of upcoming appointments and collect vital information. Because texting has become such a massive facet of our lives it should come as no surprise that providers have taken advantage of this consumer preference.

The healthcare industry has grown remarkably complex over the past few decades and the need for effective data management, collected by digital tools, is more important now than ever before. When managed correctly, this data is often the key to improved patient engagement.

Managing data collection the right way

Frankly, there’s no single all-encompassing way to manage customer data. Specific digital tools must be used for particular tasks performed by providers. It is the task itself that will help healthcare providers to determine the best data collection methods.

To help improve this process, there are a few questions that need to be answered:

What tools are required to get the job done?

Who will be responsible for collecting the information?

What data do you need to collect?

Do tools already exist that are well suited for your purposes?

Are there any templates or tool samples available?

Answering the above questions should clarify the best methods needed to collect data in the most efficient way possible. Take for example, using a database such as Microsoft Excel to manage data for customers who require monthly prescription medication. Customer data can be arranged neatly into rows and columns which makes it easier for medical providers to make sense of the information when needed.

Digital tools empower patients

At the root of it all, digital tools do more than streamline the healthcare experience for patients; it empowers them as well. Due to the advent of telemedicine it’s now easier than ever to recover in the comfort of your own home which eliminates travel costs, wait times, and provides convenience of the highest degree.

Digital tools also allow for more efficient appointments. Mobile apps such as DocASAP and ZocDoc (used in the US) simplify the process of finding physicians who are ready to book appointments. Similar services like Push Doctor, or GP at Hand gaining popularity in the UK.

The future of data collection in healthcare

The healthcare industry is evolving practically every day and requires efficient data collection and management. Answering vital questions, who owns the collected data and who gives permission to use them and for what purposes is a must. Also, important questions are what the specific tools needed to perform a specific task (take appointment apps for example) and the type of data that needs to be collected will not only improve healthcare data collection efforts but also improve the level of care offered to patients.

Healthcare data is a sensitive personal data. Managing such data is heavily regulated (GDPR is not the only regulation, which needs to be observed). While healthcare industry is becoming data-driven, security and accuracy of such data is key as well as clear guidance who can get access to this data and how data is managed on the long-term.

Author: Eva Lajko