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Doctor, Data Scientist or Both?

By Michael Dahlweid, GM Product Management & Director Medical Informatics, Healthcare IT

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With advances in healthcare IT, healthcare providers will have access to a broad ecosystem of digital ways to collect, store, and perform tasks with clinical information and could potentially be overwhelmed by the abundance of data they have to deal with. Without data mining it will be difficult to make any meaningful decisions for the benefits of patients.

This also impacts on the operational excellence of hospitals too. It is in the interests of healthcare providers to use data mining for efficiency. As mentioned in the GE White Paper: Industrial Internet: Pushing the boundaries of minds and machines from 2012,  a one percent efficiency gain globally could yield more than $63 billion in health care savings.

Patients’ medical histories containing vital, diagnostic, and therapeutic – and eventually bio-marker data of patients can be anonymously pooled. Then clinicians can detect patterns that may lead to better treatment for those with rare diseases, predict an emerging health epidemic or even determine how combinations of certain medicines for specific patients should be avoided.

Not only does this work in less common situations, but also for health staff as well clinicians who need quick access to information to make faster, more informed decisions about the best possible treatments for their patients every day. Healthcare providers should steadily be moving towards their staff choosing the best route to maintaining or improving the health of a patient through the best data available.

So who will the hospital data experts be? Will they be the clinicians working in the care environment or will hospitals need to start employing data scientists that work alongside the medical staff?

Michael Dahlweid, GM Product Management & Director Medical Informatics, Healthcare IT

Michael Dahlweid, GM Product Management & Director Medical Informatics, Healthcare IT

When students take medical degrees, their courses usually include biology, anatomy, psychology, genetics to name a few topics. Medical informatics courses already exist to give students an overview in how to use healthcare systems such as electronic medical records and digital imaging solutions. Analytics will surely be a useful skill for the clinical staff in the future healthcare environment to determine the best care pathway for a patient and to be prepared for what’s called precision medicine.  So will data science now become part of the curriculum mix?

GE Healthcare is sending its product managers through analytics training to give them the insights they need to give expert advice to customers. In the same way, all clinical staff might benefit from knowing more about data interpretation to give their patients the best in personalized care.

Who should lead the way in pushing for making clinicians more data science aware? Should hospitals and industry partner with colleges and universities to set up these training courses? Clearly this is a call to action.