29 Sep 2019 0 minutes to read Contributors
There are enormous shifts taking place across the healthcare sector. But one of the biggest is that almost everything, from patient identification to laboratory testing and trend analysis, is being run on a database system. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of effective data management for today’s healthcare providers.
Digital health records that accompany every patient from cradle to grave are already a reality. And, new systems and digitally connected devices are constantly being developed. In order to provide comprehensive patient care and safety, all that health data from a myriad of systems and care providers needs a secure but easily accessible database.
No one wants to go back to the days of inefficient paper-based files. After all, easy access to data is also critical to tracking and evaluating healthcare systems and trends, such as vaccination levels, as well as clinical research. Yet, at the same time, healthcare providers must protect private, sensitive information from loss or misuse.
All these trends pose big challenges specific to the health sector.
Modern healthcare demands specialist practitioners and systems. This can mean different IT systems for patient information, laboratory testing, digital imaging and many other applications. In addition, individual patients have IoT-connected devices to monitor vital signs, such as their blood pressure or heart rate. In fact, there are predictions that the growth of IoT will result in over 30 billion devices in 2020.
Patients are seen by multiple professionals and organizations throughout their journey through the healthcare system. As they visit clinics, laboratories, hospitals and pharmacies their health and personal data are recorded and stored at every stage. This adds up to a huge amount of sensitive information that needs to be reliable, up-to-date and easily retrieved to draw accurate conclusions and implement the appropriate care.
These vast healthcare databases are a high profile target for hackers. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) suffered a major ransonware attack just last year. As more healthcare systems are migrated to the Cloud, data protection and security awareness training for all staff (not just database professionals) is essential to ensure they can recognize and respond to everything from criminal attacks to unintended internal security lapses.
In healthcare, inadequate database management could lead to more than simply wasted time and user frustrations with slow-running systems. Inaccurate, missing or difficult to access information can literally cost lives. As healthcare becomes a more digitally connected service, our highly-valued healthcare professionals will need the support of skilled database experts.
To run their services efficiently and ensure patient safety, healthcare providers need access to data 24/7. They also need to filter, analyze and report on that data to improve the quality of care they provide. Data sharing can also be highly beneficial at a broader level; policymakers, for example, can use information collated across providers to implement life-changing health reforms.
Technology is bringing huge benefits to healthcare. But, managing the impact on patient safety and privacy is a major concern. These are big challenges for all healthcare providers and institutions.
There are no quick fixes or easy answers. But, having trusted database experts working alongside you as strategic partners is the best place to start. We are always happy for healthcare providers to contact us to discuss their specific database management needs. By sharing knowledge we can find the best solutions to current and potential future healthcare challenges.