Is "Bring Your Own Data" the Next Big Thing?

Citing resources from Stanford, Michigan Medical School, and a recently published study by the American Hospital Association, Healthcare IT News posits that the next big trend in healthcare may just be the growth of “bring your own data” by patients as they visit their healthcare providers. With more and more consumer-focused technology such as wearables, fitness trackers, and specialized tools for at-risk patients, and deeper investment on the part of hospitals and health systems into technologies built around communication and interoperability, the ability for patients to collaborate directly with physicians in their own care has never been greater.

To review the full Healthcare IT News article, click here.

The concept of “Bring Your Own Data” in a physician office is an interesting one, as it requires not only a practice that can accept patient-generated health data, but can also add to it, export new data back to patients, and communicate patient data with other constituents in their patients’ care. As we see it, transitioning your practice to be able to participate in this sort of patient healthcare information exchange happens in three phases.

Phase 1: Practice Management and Electronic Health Records

The first and most important building block of participation in a “Bring Your Own Data” model is the adoption of technology that allows your practice to accept and store patient data, which means the adoption of a practice management system and/or electronic health record. Since the implementation of the Meaningful Use incentive (and its electronic communication requirements) in particular, EHR vendors have built into their systems the ability to both import and export patient data in standard formats called CCDs or CCDAs. Should a patient provide you with their data electronically, your EHR should have the capability to take that data and create a chart within the EHR for that patient, populating the med list, problem lists, etc. appropriately. Further, should the patient then request their data from your practice, your EHR should be able to export the same CCD/CCDA file format back to your patients with any additions your practice has made.

Phase 2: Patient Engagement

The foundation of the “Bring Your Own Data” model is the toolset required to import, export, and store electronic patient data, which your EHR system should allow you to do. The next phase of this model, as eMDs sees it, revolves around access. With the right tools in place, you can allow patients to bring you their data, and you can provide their data to them should they ask, but the mechanisms for doing so aren’t very convenient. The patient would need to bring you a disk or a thumb drive with their electronic information on it, and you would have to provide the same back.

Patient engagement builds upon your EHR system and allows for the communication of electronic health information between practice and patient to be much more simple. Tools like patient portals interface with your EHR system and allow for patients to provide health information to the practice securely and online, and allow providers to maintain secure, electronic copies of patients’ charts that they can review from the practice’s website simply by typing in their password. These tools can even allow for requesting appointments, pre-registering for visits, transmitting lab results, and accessing patient health information from external sources like Surescripts/RxHub.

Phase 3: Population Health

The last piece of the “Bring Your Own Data” puzzle is population health, which refers to the greater sharing of community healthcare data among all its constituencies, including patients, practices, hospitals, payers, ACOs, and so on. Provided enough practices in a given community are using the tools necessary to capture and communicate health information electronically, population health tools can allow a greater level of understanding of patient communities and healthcare outcomes through analyze data community-wide and comparing trends.

In all areas of this “Bring Your Own Data” model for patients, eMDs can help its practices acquire the tools necessary to participate, and thus provide for their patients an added layer of modernization and convenience, whether it’s through our core PM/EHR solutions, partnerships with patient portal and other patient engagement platforms, or participation with notable population health solutions, eMDs has your practice covered.