For many years we have been talking about the ‘digital divide’ in healthcare, but the implementation of any digital solution does not itself improve outcomes, unless there is clear evidence to prove it. To gain this evidence involves the collection of the good data, and then a robust analysis of the data collected.

Unfortunately, most implementations of digital solutions in healthcare, especially electronic medical records (eMRs), have not applied sufficient resources to the governance of data collection, and resources for data analysis. This has led to a big ‘data divide’ between healthcare organisations, states and territories, and countries. Our recent meeting on Health Data Analytics in Brisbane highlighted this perfectly.

As we all grapple with the challenges to healthcare delivery, now and into the future’, we need to understand that the data will be the key driver of change. As a clinician, I see access to data as the best way of ensuring my patients receive the right care, especially as we implement the personalisation of care.

So, when we consider any ‘digital’ health solution, it is essential that we ensure adequate resources are allocated to data collection, storage, and analysis. It is also essential that the access to this data is made as simple as possible, presented in ways that are relevant to the users, and be both descriptive and predictive in nature. And the analysis of data starts at Day 1, not years after the fact.

Data is our past, present, and future.

By Dr Mark Santamaria
Chair of HISA’s Clinical Informatics Community of Practice.