November 5, 2019
How Patient Generated Health Data Changes the Digital Health Game
Healthcare Stakeholders Can Leverage Patient Generated Health Data to Improve Outcomes and Reduce Costs
Patient generated health data (PGHD) is defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) as “health-related data created, recorded, or gathered by or from patients (or family members or other caregivers) to help address a health concern.” This includes biometric data, lifestyle choices, treatment history, health history, and symptoms. This is a deviation from the previous scenario in healthcare where the clinician was responsible for all the data collection, typically done during a patient’s visit to the office. Today, a lot of healthcare data is being generated by patients on their habitual living environment.
Why the Rise in Patient Generated Health Data?
Patient generated health data (PGHD) is increasingly becoming a mainstay in healthcare and its growth is being driven by the significant advances in healthcare technology and the proliferation and popularity of consumer health devices which are becoming more affordable. Patients are now able to collect health-related data 24/7 and/or enter data into some software application which allows them to keep track of fitness and other health goals. Health devices like the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and smart clothing, are wearables that collect data such as steps and heart rate. There are mobile applications that collect data on lifestyle metrics such as caloric intake, physical activity, hydration, tobacco and alcohol use, and medication adherence. There are also registered medical devices such as the pacemaker and blood glucose monitors that monitor data on heart rate and blood glucose levels. Some of these devices allow for remote monitoring where data is collected remotely and transmitted to the healthcare provider.
76% of patients believe that wearables have the potential to help them better manage their health and potentially improve it.Accenture Report
Big data analytics is another factor that is driving the increase in PGHD. A lot of investment is going into big data analytics due to its potential to offer advanced intelligence and objectivity. The ability to collect and analyze large quantities of health data is invaluable to population health management (PHM) and precision medicine. The National Institute of Health has launched an All of Us ResearchProgram in an effort to “gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health.” PGHD will play a big role in this and other research programs that are seeking for large amounts of patient data collection.
Leveraging Patient Generated Health Data can Benefit your Healthcare Organization
Patient generated health data (PGHD) is here to stay and healthcare stakeholders can harness the continuous stream of PGHD that is available and leverage it to improve patient care. PGHD can provide clinicians with valuable insights into the health of patients outside of the care setting. Leveraging PGHD can benefit the patient, the provider, and the healthcare organization in various ways including:
- Disease management: PGHD can help providers to identify trends and outliers, allowing for more efficient data analysis and monitoring. PGHD is especially beneficial in the management of chronic conditions where remote monitoring devices generate data that can help providers to intervene earlier enabling better tracking of the progression of disease, preventing complications, and avoiding hospital admissions and readmissions.
- Improve patient outcomes: this comes from proactive monitoring of changes in routine, identification of exacerbations before they result in acute episodes and timely interventions.
- Improve patient engagement: the use of PGHD by providers increases patient engagement. A 2016 survey by WebMD and Medscape Education found that 65% of providers reported that their patients were more engaged when PGHD was used during their office visits. The survey also found that 97% of patients were more likely to measure, collect, and provide PGHD to their providers if they felt that the data will be used to develop their treatment plan or care.
- Reduce costs: the more efficient and timely treatment and improved outcomes associated with the use of PGHD will in turn result in reduced costs from fewer admissions and readmissions. Providers will also avoid penalties from high readmission rates.
- Support value-based care reimbursements: with the move towards value-based care, clinicians can benefit financially for using PGHD in patient care through Advanced Payment Models (APMs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reimburse providers for remote patient monitoring services such as the monitoring of physiological factors like weight, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and respiratory flow rate as per the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule.
- Improve analytics: continuous data on patients provided by PGHD can help to develop predictive analytics models based on advanced algorithms
- Compliance with federal regulations: incorporating PGHD into the care they provide will help healthcare providers and organizations comply with federal regulations. Presently, the CMS through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) requires that healthcare providers integrate PGHD into Electronic Health Records (EHRs) using Certified Electronic Health Record Technology, although the CMS is seeking comments on this requirement in its 2020 Quality Payment Program Proposed Rule and Request for Information for 2021.
The healthcare industry is changing and is moving towards more patient-centred care, further patient engagement, and increased use of healthcare technologies. A big part of this change is patients generating their own data on their health status and conditions. Progressive healthcare stakeholders can digitally transform their organizations and derive numerous benefits from leveraging PGHD to improve the care they provide and add to the vast amount of information needed to improve health systems and make breakthroughs in areas such as precision medicine.