Understanding Healthcare Data Repositories for Improving Patient Outcomes

In the healthcare industry, vast amounts of data are gathered every single second of the day. All of this data can allow practitioners and researchers to identify trends, patterns, and relationships among patient populations. When processed effectively, healthcare data allows medical teams to better understand patients and their medical needs. Healthcare data repositories fill this role as a type of digital warehouse that is used for storing all of this vital information. However, data repositories go a step further by permitting clinicians with the ability to catalog and process this big data. Learn how your patients can benefit from the use of healthcare data repositories.

Understanding Big Data

Big data, which is best understood as super-sized amounts of data in one location, is available in all industries from healthcare to transportation. Thanks to speedy technologies we can now take all of the bits of patient data and congregate these in a centralized location. For the healthcare industry, such a location is known as healthcare data repositories.

Using additional technology healthcare professionals can mine this big data. As discussed by Duke University Medical Center data mining can decipher subtle factors that can have major influences on our healthcare system. These changes include identifying intervention strategies and cutting costs for health care providers and patients. The key here is to figure out a way to take big data and catalog it quickly enough so that researchers can apply what they discover while it is still relevant. This is where we turn to healthcare data repositories.

Defining Healthcare Data Repositories

Healthcare data repositories, also known as clinical data repositories, serve as a database for patient data. This type of database is updated in real time using information from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Patient contact info
  • Demographics of patient
  • Patient and family history
  • Socio-economic status
  • Geographic location
  • Radiology reports
  • X-ray imaging
  • Clinical lab test results
  • Pharmacy information
  • Pathology reports
  • Admission, discharge, and transfer information
  • ICD-9 codes

Each of these subsets of data for an individual offer a wealth of information. Before clinical data repositories, researchers had little hope of finding relevant connections or relationships among data types. For starters, you would have to first locate the different data locations and then request the documentation. Not only did this antiquated approach take the time that medical teams rarely had, it still left researchers without a way to connect the dots, so to speak, between data sets. This is where healthcare data repositories offer the greatest gain.

Benefits of Data Repositories

Easily the greatest benefit of healthcare data repositories is the ability to do research more efficiently. A healthcare data repository combines the effectiveness of big data with patient records. The Journal of American Medical Informatics Association further indicates that data repositories are fast becoming the chosen method for conducting medical research. By using electronic health records and data repositories, medical researchers are able to:

  • Combine data from a range of clinical systems, such as customized and commercial data gathering systems
  • Access data from various departments, institutions, disease domains, government reporting, etc.

This allows researchers to survey and sample from a greater number of patients and patient records in less time and energy. Research can be conducted at hyper speed, allowing research results to be concluded more expediently. As a result, research can lead to application and health care improvements faster. All of this means that patients will have access to research-backed treatments, procedures, and methods faster than ever before.

This could make all the difference in improving the quality of life and providing lifesaving medical care, for patients across the board. For security concerns among healthcare providers and patient advocates, proper security measures, such as encryption and limited accessibility, can ensure healthcare data repositories are well protected.