COVID-19 has disrupted the world. Organizations have never had to navigate a global pandemic. Companies across multiple sectors must plow through entirely new territory, including recovery and finding a path to growth and opportunity. It’s like trailblazing in the dark, with forward visibility limited to the length of an outstretched machete.
Perhaps no sector has been as impacted as much as healthcare. In addition to the immediate challenges — around supply shortage, capacity issues, and revenue loss — the rising tide of data related to testing, monitoring, and managing patients (both in the short and long-term) adds further complexities.
For the healthcare industry, the pandemic has served as a perfect catalyst for accelerating long-awaited digital transformation. Public and private partnerships between tech and healthcare organizations (payers and providers), breaking data silos for improved data-sharing, and collaboration have become the order of the day. It’s going to take a big pivot in collecting, compiling, analyzing, and exchanging information. Critical to all of these issues is leveraging data standards and focusing on the integrity of data.
And, it’s going to be built on trust.
Healthcare organizations have always been challenged with interoperability issues across their various constituents. COVID-19 has snowballed this issue even further. The lack of trust originates from a lack of understanding of how data is processed, manifesting to questioning the quality of data. With COVID-19, given the various waves, the approach will need to be something more sustainable. Healthcare organizations need to figure out how to orchestrate the collection, normalization, and integration of data using standards. Given the dynamic nature of data — structured and unstructured and across multitudes of external and internal sources — organizations would be better served to leverage data-sharing platforms to analyze and distribute information quickly.
EMRs provide patient perspectives based on transactional encounters at the hospital level, but dealing with something as broad as public data to understand how that fits into the constituents the health system serves is a whole different ball game. The differences in the granularity of information and the settings of data (internal and external) make it more difficult to assimilate into a cohesive picture. These differences have put even more strain on the underlying facets of how the quality of data is managed, monitored, and reported, which has highlighted the importance of data governance.
NTT DATA, in partnership with Longitude, a Financial Times company, conducted online surveys of 500 executives from financial services, insurance, manufacturing, the public sector, and healthcare. Based on their responses, the healthcare sector has the most considerable lack of data literacy skills among those five industries. Only about 21% of the healthcare executives that responded admitted that they know how to interpret their data. Improving data quality was the biggest challenge named by 33%, and 29% said establishing a data security approach and framework was their biggest hurdle.
NTT DATA understands that having a data-first strategy plays a pivotal role in defining success — no matter the industry. The research confirmed that most organizations recognize the strategic value of data, but their efforts to use it have been hindered by fundamental challenges for decades. Until senior leadership values data at the highest level and overcomes these challenges, they will not be able to capture opportunities from the great unknown or stake a claim in the new pandemic and post-pandemic frontier. For instance, innovative healthcare solutions for contact tracing cause controversy around the use of public data and compounding an existing mistrust in data use and ownership. Therein lies the trust challenge.
In this fast-changing pandemic environment, healthcare organizations have had to overcome their data challenges so they can rapidly pivot operations and serve patients better — and their health, safety, and security are of paramount importance.
Ultimately, it will take a universal sharing of data and collaboration of insight to effectively handle something as complex as COVID-19 and its aftermath. This action calls for putting some simple measures to develop trust by leveraging frameworks around the people, processes, and systems of managing the data. This effort will help build awareness and recognize the factors leading to distrust, so corrective actions can be taken to enhance data usage for decision-making.
Trusted data must be the true north. If the data can’t be trusted, nothing else matters. To build an agile foundation for whatever is next, organizations must embrace a data-driven culture, create a high standard of data governance, and use the right data technologies to successfully transform and capture opportunities from the murky future that lies ahead.
COVID-19 has been a harsh wake-up call, showing healthcare and other organizations they can no longer afford to put off the resolution of age-old, legacy data challenges. The novel coronavirus has forced organizations to deliver digital solutions and data analytics capabilities in a matter of weeks —not months or years — to address the necessary online engagement requirements of citizens, customers, and employees in response to the global pandemic. As those digital and online experiences increase, the quality and integration of data must be addressed for the long haul.
The pandemic offers companies a chance to rethink their business and reinvent themselves. It’s an opportunity to sharpen their machetes and efficiently hack through the brush. That’s the Big Pivot.