September 22, 2023
Needle in a haystack: Providers find the value in patient-generated health data

To help health systems use patient data more easily, EHR vendors, integration platforms, technology platforms and digital health engagement platforms are building data ecosystems and ways to capture, use and share data from devices and apps, Kalis said.

Health systems recruiting employees to work on their EHRs and data-integration platforms are competing for talent with tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Tesla, Miri said. That includes full-stack developers, data analysts and informaticians, particularly those who have experience with clinical applications, he said.

These highly compensated professionals are vital to constructing systems that clinicians can use to deliver on the promise of patient-generated data, he said.

Healthcare executives increasingly see the importance of the digital frontier and more companies are spending 5% to 10% of their budgets on IT, including portals, apps and systems meant to collect patient data, Miri said.

Baptist Health spends 2% to 3% of its budget on patient-generated health data, Miri said. That spending is growing along with its greater investments in digital technology in general, he said. For instance, Baptist recently spent more than $200 million to upgrade its EHR into an integrated platform, he said.

Future of patient data

The medical industry has transformed relatively quickly in terms of technology, said Micky Tripathi, national coordinator for health information technology at HHS. The vast majority of hospitals and ambulatory care providers have certified EHRs in place, following more than $40 billion in private and public investments and commitments from vendors and providers over the past decade, he said.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 requires providers to make health records available to patients, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services links payment incentives to complying with that rule.

Now the flow of information is beginning to go in the opposite direction, with patients providing data to physicians, Tripathi said.

Under HHS rules, every certified EHR must support the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, which establishes formats and application programming interfaces for exchanging EHR data and allowing patient access, by the end of the year.

FHIR falls under Health Level Seven, a set of international standards for the transfer of clinical and administrative data between software applications that healthcare providers use, Tendo Systems’ Goldsmith said. These standards are meant to help organizations navigate interoperability and facilitate communication between EHRs and mobile apps.

The U.S. doesn’t have any regulations on the books specifically governing patient-generated health data, although various entities are developing guidelines for healthcare providers.