Patient Data Challenges Faced By Health Facilities and How to Overcome Them

Data Challenges

Do you know how much data is generated by the global healthcare sector? According to Statista, the healthcare sector generates over 19 terabytes of data each year. This is just the clinical data volume. Factoring in other forms of healthcare data will see that number skyrocket even higher. 

It’s understandable why such high volumes of data are generated by the healthcare sector. After all, only when a healthcare provider is aware of their patient’s health data can they provide them accurate treatment. However, managing such large volumes of data is extremely difficult, often impossible. Yet, by taking the right steps, it need not be that difficult.

In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges health facilities face when managing patient data and how they can overcome them. 

Data Security and Privacy Concerns

One of the main challenges facilities face when dealing with patient data management is ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive information. 

During the first half of 2022, there were around 337 breaches in the US healthcare sector. The US Department of Health and Human Services believes that these breaches led to the loss of data that affected over 19 million individuals.

According to the CIS Center for Internet Security, the average cost of a data breach incurred by a healthcare agency per stolen record is $355. However, what’s more worrying than the financial loss is the loss of patient data, which might be misused or even held for ransom. 

Therefore, all healthcare facilities are responsible for safeguarding their patient information and preventing unauthorized access and breaches. The best way to prevent data breaches is to invest in robust cybersecurity measures. These include everything from encryption and access controls to ensuring regular security audits. 

Healthcare providers should also comply with stringent data protection regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States, to maintain patient trust and confidentiality.

Interoperability and Data Integration

Health facilities often struggle with interoperability and data integration, particularly when dealing with various systems and platforms that store patient data. Integrating disparate data sources, such as laboratory systems, and medical imaging systems, can be a complex and time-consuming process. 

To address this challenge, healthcare providers should adopt standardized data formats and implement interoperability frameworks like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). By establishing seamless data exchange between systems, health facilities can improve care coordination and enhance patient outcomes.

Data Accuracy and Integrity

Maintaining accurate and reliable patient data is crucial for effective healthcare delivery. However, health facilities face challenges related to data accuracy and integrity, including duplicate records, incomplete information, and data entry errors. 

To overcome these issues, healthcare providers can implement data validation protocols, automated data entry systems, and periodic data cleansing processes. These can be easily achieved with the right practice management software in place. Such software makes the most of electronic health records (EHR) and patient data to give medical practices a complete bird’s eye view of their entire operations. 

According to Psyquel, the global electronic medical records market is estimated to reach a value of $47,640.2 million in the next six years. This is because such systems are easy to use and compatible with other medical software. More importantly, they ensure patient data accuracy and integrity which is vital for providing the best possible healthcare services and guaranteeing patient satisfaction. 

Data Storage and Scalability

As the volume of patient data continues to grow exponentially, health facilities face challenges in storing and managing this vast amount of information. Traditional data storage systems may become overwhelmed, leading to slower access times and compromised performance. 

This challenge can be easily addressed if healthcare providers can adopt cloud-based storage solutions that offer scalability, flexibility, and enhanced data accessibility. Cloud platforms also provide robust backup and disaster recovery mechanisms, ensuring data resilience and business continuity.

Data Governance and Compliance

Healthcare facilities must comply with various regulations and standards governing patient data management. Establishing effective data governance policies and procedures is essential to ensure compliance with these regulations. 

Healthcare providers should implement data governance frameworks that define roles, responsibilities, and accountability for data management processes. Regular audits and compliance assessments can help identify gaps and ensure adherence to regulatory requirements.

Patient Engagement and Data Access

When you let a patient access their own health data, it helps improve engagement and allows better care coordination between them and your healthcare providers. However, when you let patients access data, even when it’s their own, you’re exposing the data to certain risks. 

Maybe one of the patients accesses the data from a malware-infected PC or somehow ends up sharing their password with others. In such circumstances, the data is likely to be compromised, which might further jeopardize other patients’ data.  

Implementing patient portals and mobile applications can facilitate data access, appointment scheduling, and communication between patients and healthcare providers. Moreover, educating patients about the benefits of data access and privacy measures can enhance their trust and involvement in their own care.

When it comes to data management, things are bound to get challenging, especially when the volume of data is extremely large. For the healthcare sector, the task is even more mammoth as you have to keep the trust of your patients and make sure that information regarding their illnesses and vulnerabilities don’t fall into the right hands, and sticking to the above-mentioned tips for each challenge discussed will help you ensure just that.


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