On March 9th, 2020, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released long-awaited rules governing healthcare data sharing and patients’ access to their health data.1 This moment was a victory for health data liberation and innovation.
As healthcare organizations adopt business models built around consumer-centric platforms, market power will shift away from payers and providers to consumers.
The new rules require health insurers and providers to grant third-party developers access to patient health records, including screenshots, through standardized protocols. They further require providers to inform one another regarding patient admissions, discharges and transfers. Finally, the rules enable patients to get access to their health information through third-party apps that they authorize.
This is an age of unprecedented data capture. Worldwide, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily, and that number is growing exponentially.2 A quintillion is a 1 followed by 18 zeroes. Google’s search engine processes 40,000 searches every second.3 Information on such a scale is not comprehensible without sophisticated technology.
There is no turning back. As happened in 2007 with the release of the iPhone, advances in computational speed, highly scalable data storage, ubiquitous connectivity, advanced analytics, mobile technologies and real-time data sharing are coalescing to create a new paradigm of human-machine collaboration. Our world will never be the same.
Healthcare generates as much or more data than any other industry. Healthcare providers need to leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and other technology tools to collect, curate and analyze massive data sets to improve care delivery, streamline administrative tasks, and glean insights that lead to new and better medicines, treatments and interventions.
As other vital industries (e.g., banking, telecommunications and transportation) have proven, extreme and secure data interoperability is the essential ingredient required to create technological value. As these new rules go into effect, they will unleash innovation expertise on the nation’s most fragmented, inefficient and consumer-unfriendly industry.
Combined with innovative new technologies and the evolution of 5G connectivity, healthcare is poised for the emergence of Amazon-like platform companies that will revolutionize and personalize healthcare delivery. Healthcare will never be the same.
Liberated, Liquid Healthcare Data Changes Everything
Like all data, health data creates value when it is free-flowing and protected. Once liberated, data becomes more effective and meaningful. It flows to where it can provide the most benefit. Pro-market regulations, like the new data-sharing rules issued in 2020, can level the competitive playing field, stimulate innovation and create value.
With appropriate guidelines and regulations in place, extreme interoperability gets the right data to the right place at the right time in the right format, in a secure manner, so that frontline professionals can make the right treatment decisions in real time. Liquid data will become the electricity that powers care optimization, patient engagement and health consumerism.
Imagine platform companies harnessing the power of these new technologies to redesign and deliver health and healthcare services that meet consumers’ specific needs and preferences.
Importantly, liquid data with extreme interoperability will empower “platform” health companies to emerge and assemble capabilities that address consumers’ healthcare needs, wants and desires.
Other industries have demonstrated the potential of this mode of platforming. Healthcare can learn from them. Changes in the banking industry illustrate the incredible power of platforming to revolutionize healthcare. Forty years ago, college students had to cash a check at their local bank by 3 pm on Fridays if they wanted weekend spending money. Beginning in the 1980s, ATMs made cash withdrawals available around the clock.
Today, cash withdrawals, deposits, payments and transfers are a click away through interactive apps on smart phones. Consumers rarely visit a local bank, as access to banking services has never been better, faster or easier. Remarkably, all transactions occur within secure digital platforms.
Healthcare still operates 1980s-era business models without the convenience, capabilities and connectivity that other industries routinely offer consumers. Patient visits occur primarily at physical locations with inconvenient hours and unacceptable delays. This antiquated operating paradigm persists in large part because healthcare companies have failed to develop the data aggregation, analysis and application technologies that drive modern business enterprises.
Healthcare data is fragmented, inaccessible and siloed. It is essentially stuck in solid form and needs to thaw, so that it can flow freely to where it can provide the greatest benefit. The new data sharing rules help provide the sunlight to melt the silos and light the path to interoperability.
With liquid data and extreme interoperability, healthcare companies will develop platforms tailored to consumer preferences. Like in banking, platforming healthcare companies will delight consumers with great products and services at competitive prices. Customers will receive greater value and satisfaction for their healthcare purchases.
Unleashing Liquid Data’s Power
Platform companies can unleash liquid data’s power through a three-step process. This interactive process (see chart below), aggregates, curates and engages increasingly refined and customized data to solve customers’ problems.