shutterstock_105075434Our extensive work with medical researchers has made us take a closer look at data mining in the medical industry and its progress. Does IT have a role in the medical industry? If so, to what extent? This article will be of particular use to you if you are thinking about integrating IT into your healthcare systems or are interested in IT in medicine in general.

 

First off, convince, not coerce!

Matthew Morgan, a practicing physician and director of healthcare informatics at Per-Se Technologies, makes a persuasive case to convince doctors of the usefulness of keeping electronic records. He argues that if doctors are convinced of its efficient and time saving nature, they will be more enthusiastic to embrace change. He uses the example of University Health Network to illustrate his rationale – automatic alerts were built into the system as a motivational technique to show the doctor how they were saving time when they used the system. He also points out several factors to keep in mind from the administrative angle to ensure the whole process runs smoothly, including easy access, user friendliness and speed.

 

Helps make better medical decisions

Anthony Plewes, cofounder of Futurity Media, highlights the possibilities – both theoretical and practical – of properly mining medical data. Patterns that may not be readily visible with paper records become available, aiding better decision-making, both clinically and administratively. Of course this also means not only clinicians and hospital management gets involved in the process, but IT companies such as ours, with particular expertise in data mining and analysis, also need to contribute.

 

UK doing brilliantly

The good news is that the pro-IT arguments seem to have struck home in the UK, with 97% of GPs using electronic medical records as reported by Kathleen Hall. This is the highest percentage in the world and is accompanied by another world-highest record in which 84% of UK GPs said they take patient feedback into account regularly.

 

Data mining at risk from bad policy decisions

This brilliant track record however may be marred by recent developments of the Health Bill that fragment NHS data collection by bringing in multiple private contractors. Stephen Robinson, clinical reporter for GP newspaper, writes that this hampers data exchange amongst different medical establishments, particularly between the GPs and the hospitals, and acts as a barrier to integration. Of course this means the care you receive at your GP could be threatened.

 

Pharmaceutical industry can also benefit

Integrating IT into medicine is not only beneficial to clinicians – the pharmaceutical industry can learn valuable lessons too, as this article on CBR online discusses at length.

 

Whichever way we look at this issue, it’s obvious IT in medicine is here to stay. In the process, of course, it raises various new concerns – protection of privacy being the foremost one. With sensible data management, however, it is possible to circumvent those concerns and still take advantage of the various benefits it offers, specifically in the field of medical research. One of our projects with the North East Ambulance Service even went a step further than just collecting data from paper forms by increasing the speed of data capture through using mobile and handheld devices. IT in medicine is showing exciting progress every day and we at Document Capture Company are glad to be a part of the revolution.