COVID-19 created a national boom in telehealth visits across the U.S. While alternative primary care models had already gained some traction before the pandemic, the new COVID reality greatly accelerated the inevitable evolution towards a more accessible and convenient care setting for patients. Not only do more patients now want or need home healthcare visits, either virtually or in person, but the medical practitioners seeing these patients need access to the patients’ complete medical history to provide the best possible care and treatment.
It is encouraging that what proved to be daunting in the past, at the height of handwritten doctor’s notes and fax machines, is now much easier to accomplish with electronic health records and the interoperability of clinical patient data. This digital transformation has made it much easier to securely gather essential patient data than ever before. While advances in technology and the creation of the 21st Century Cures Act have helped to accelerate this transition, the U.S. remains a long way from achieving nirvana when it comes to interoperability and a full data exchange among all providers.
At Health Gorilla, we are passionate about solving problems in healthcare and we have taken significant steps to improve the national interoperability landscape. In fact, our core mission focuses on empowering patients and providers with complete access to health data. From our expansive lab network to our data normalization and enrichment processes, we take pride in making it easier for providers to have access to the clinical data they need at their fingertips when treating a patient.
We see in real time how these tools help trailblazing leaders in digital health, such as Heal, provide telemedicine and physician house call services to tens of thousands of patients. Through our Patient360 platform, Heal physicians can review a patient’s medical records before they administer care. Another digital health pioneer, Virta Health, which specializes in reversing type-2 diabetes, relies on the Health Gorilla lab network to place orders, receive results, and track patient A1C test results.
As we continue to chart a path towards broader interoperability, we also need to keep an eye on what’s next. We believe that aggregated, access-controlled, actionable data is the backbone of the healthcare ecosystem. Data is what empowers everyone involved to provide and receive the best possible care. Let’s examine two key data sectors that could expand the total pool of information available for healthcare organizations and patients.
First, Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) combines an array of non-traditional clinical data that nevertheless directly impacts patient health. Some of the social risk domains identified as most relevant to health include food insecurity, housing instability and quality, and transportation access. With research showing significant connections between patient outcomes and some of these social determinants of health, forward-thinking healthcare organizations and digital health leaders have raced to build risk assessments that incorporate these SDOH data points. As we gather more data on patients beyond the clinical setting, providers can treat patients with a broader and deeper knowledge base of that patient’s total health picture.
Second, information from wearable technologies presents an emerging health data source with a huge potential. As society embraces fitness and health devices such as smart watches and other remote monitoring devices, the data captured through those devices can hand providers previously unavailable visibility into patient activity and health in between visits. Instantly tracked data from wearables allows medical professionals to monitor the results of treatment more effectively in closer to real time.
Platforms like Health Gorilla’s Patient360 springboard the ability to impact the healthcare ecosystem as we build our ever-growing patient data lake, allowing medical professionals to have as broad of an understanding as possible for the patients they are treating – as well as creating an opportunity for them to contribute data back into the ecosystem for each patient they treat. Only through an industry-wide push for greater interoperability will the entire market create that rich, bi-directional exchange of healthcare data that is absolutely critical to the health and welfare of patients across the nation.