Data without borders —
 the changing role of information in healthcare

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patricia Lauder knew something wasn’t right. The 73-year-old retiree’s Fitbit had been charting her heart rate for months, firmly setting 60 to 70 beats per minute (bpm) as normal. So when the data showed she was averaging 100 bpm, she made an appointment with her doctor. “Probably walking pneumonia or a bad cold,” her doctor said, sending her home after ordering tests. But when the Fitbit spiked to 140 bpm, she moved quickly and dialed 911. Luckily for her, she did. It turned out she had potentially deadly blood clots in both lungs. Patricia and her doctors credit the Fitbit for saving her life.

While Patricia’s story is unique, the trend of consumers tracking and analyzing their own health data certainly isn’t. According to Rock Health’s 2016 Consumer Survey, more than 25 percent of consumers own one wearable, and the number of sensors in wearables is on the rise as well, generating data on heart rate, blood pressure, activity level, and more. People are using digital tools of all kinds to interact with their medical providers. Consumers are no longer passive patients. They track, analyze, and report data related to their health — and expect access to the data generated by medical treatment and tests.
space
 
Shifting attitudes about sharing data.
 
The role of data in healthcare has completely shifted in the last decade. With the evolution from paper records to centralized electronic health records (EHRs), digital data is driving improved health outcomes in every stage of healthcare, from research to delivery to prediction. And as Patricia’s story shows, data is moving outside the four walls of healthcare providers and into the hands of consumers — who want to be able to share and integrate their data with the data generated by their providers.
Sources of healthcare data:
Clinical
Clinical
Patient
Patient
Financial
Financial
Pharmacy
Pharmacy
Hospital
Hospital
Wearables and medical devices
Wearables and medical devices
Opt-in genome data
Opt-in genome data
Information is care if the information is shared and integrated into an actionable framework. But too often in the past, regulations and privacy concerns hampered healthcare’s digital transformation — especially when it came to personalized data.
 
 
This is changing. While it’s true healthcare may have lagged other verticals in the past, a recent survey from Econsultancy shows healthcare companies are responding to market and technological forces, and are likely to see exponential change over the next few years as digital data storage and sharing becomes the norm.
space
 
Data rich, talent poor.
 
This influx of data is not without its challenges. The skills for data science and integration are in high demand, and according to the survey, healthcare is facing a skills gap.

Although over two-thirds of healthcare and pharma companies say improving data analysis capabilities is “very important” in delivering a great customer experience over the coming year, they are less likely than their peers in other sectors to have the skills they need — 61 percent compared to an average of 67 percent across other sectors, according to Econsultancy.

But healthcare companies are responding. They’re taking action by investing in training for their workforce and partnering with vendors that specialize in data analysis and action. Compared to last year, healthcare and pharma companies are 30 percent more likely to see training as “very important” for their digital marketing over the next years (60 percent vs. 46 percent). Investing in your staff in such critical areas as data science will pay off no matter where you’re at in your digital transformation. Having highly skilled internal resources has been shown to have a domino effect on a company’s performance both in the short and long term.

Take action: Increase your internal training budgets around data science and integration, and strategically hire candidates with these skills.

space
Integration takes center stage.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this new digital world, skills and technology go hand in hand. According to the Econsultancy survey of over 500 healthcare executives, two-thirds of healthcare and pharma companies see improving data analysis capabilities as “very important” for the coming year, while a whopping 96 percent rank this as both “important” or “very important.” This reflects the urgency and the need for skilled staff to collect, distill, and analyze the data influx — and for organizations to make investments in marketing platforms that can enable this integration.
Healthcare executives see improving the customer experience.
 
Perceived importance of factors in delivering a great customer experience over the coming year.
Improving data analysis capabilities to better understand customer experience requirements
67% bar
Optimizing creative workflows to facilitate the rapid creation and deployment of content
52%
Optimizing internal collaboration between creative and marketing teams
47% bar A
Building more native online content, such as interactive applications, short-form video, etc.
47% bar B
Ongoing and widespread testing of creative variations
34% bar
Experimentation with channel-specific creative formats (e.g., Snapchat video, Twitter cards, etc.)
29% bar
graph key
Patients, customers, members, and prospects expect you to know who they are and what they’re interested in. They’re expecting a similar level of personalization from healthcare that they get from retail, travel, and other services. To be effective, healthcare companies also need to understand what channels patients respond to and what content they're interested in, so they can effectively deliver engaging content.
 
For this level of insight and personalization to work, it’s crucial to integrate data from all sources into one holistic 360-degree view of the patient. A centralized data platform can also make the data accessible, so the patient’s interactions can be tracked and optimized.
Create a whole patient profile — one data source maps all patient interactions.
You
You
Offline data: customer calls for support
Offline data: Customer calls for support  
Online data: site search for information about health conditions or plans
Online data: Site search for information about health conditions or plans   
Online data: customer  opt-ins for newsletters and other content
Online data: Customer  opt-ins for newsletters and other content   
Offline data: in-person visit to pharmacy
Offline data: In-person visit to pharmacy  
Offline data: in-person visit to lab
Offline data: In-person visit to lab
CRM data containing demographic and financial data
CRM: Data containing demographic and financial data
Consumer data: wearables, medical devices, notes and questions
Consumer data: Wearables, medical devices, notes and questions
You
Nurse
As data expands outside of internal systems to consumers’ wearables or medical devices, the need for integration is even more important. The potential of these devices to improve health outcomes is huge — but only if the data is integrated into the patient’s record where campaigns can be triggered, segments can be created, and communication and actions can be launched. For more details about integrating data safely and securely, see Share safely.
 
Take action: Be sure your marketing platform makes use of open APIs and SDKs or has off-the-shelf connectors, so you can integrate with back office, clinical and support systems, and consumer sources of data.  
space
 
How eHealth unifies its data.
 
Buying healthcare coverage is not something you do on impulse. eHealth, a leading private online marketplace for health insurance products in the United States, realized its marketing issues weren’t only about getting prospects to the site — they also had to track and improve re-engagement and conversion.
 
 
Previously, eHealth used five different platforms to manage their marketing activities, which resulted in disconnected reports that made it difficult for marketers to understand what channels were most effective or how they could improve engagement and purchase rates. Trying to integrate these five tools was a data nightmare of duplicates and loss of attribution. And the silos also caused a jagged experience for prospects and customers who were tracked per system, not user.
 
 
eHealth responded by implementing a platform that supports multiple ad strategies, a holistic view of all campaigns and customers with unified reporting, and the ability to quickly launch and test creative strategies. The results in efficiency and revenue have been outstanding. The new platform dropped the cost-per-client acquisition 19 percent and reduced the cost per order (CPO) by 40 percent, drastically improving the company's bottom line.
eHealth’s integrated marketing platform had a big effect.
19 percent drop in cost per acquisition
19 percent drop in cost per acquisition
40 percent reduction in cost per order
40 percent reduction in cost per order
Better visibility, efficiency, and reaction times
Better visibility, efficiency, and reaction times
space
Enabling a two-way conversation.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to a recent survey by Xerox, 91 percent of consumers want to be more proactive in managing their health. That means they want to engage with their providers in a rich, two-way conversation. Like Patricia Lauder’s story shows, consumers want to report their own data and have a dialogue with their physician or provider about the findings. Healthcare companies need to invest in a platform that can enable this interchange via content, audience, and campaign management capabilities.
 
Pharma companies are one example of a segment that has been riding the wave of consumer proactivity in the digital realm. We’ve all seen the TV ads that raise awareness of drug treatments for specific conditions. Many of the ads are driving consumers to online conversions for ebooks or wellness tips. Once consumers have engaged with the pharma company, their demographic information is integrated with online browsing data available through cookies, so targeted emails can be sent on how to manage the specific conditions they have shown an interest in. Through a robust preference center, pharma companies can ensure customers get what they want without being a nuisance or forcing compliance. By having a direct relationship with the consumer, pharma companies are building loyalty for their drugs and helping improve health outcomes at the same time.
A sample customer journey for pharma.
Sees digital ad
Sees digital ad
next
Downloads ebook
Downloads ebook
next
Opts in to diabetes content, receives medication discounts
Opts in to diabetes content, receives medication discounts
next
Stays loyal to the brand
Stays loyal to the brand
In the future, consumers may opt in for an even more robust two-way conversation with their own data. For instance, ABC Science reported that a new wearable device in development at the University of California measures skin temperature and four chemicals in sweat. The device could one day monitor the amount of an active drug in a patient’s blood — helping avoid fluctuating drug levels between doses. Anonymized data like this at scale could also hold the key to solving community-wide health issues or optimizing drugs for patient populations.
 
Take action: Invest in a platform that allows you to easily launch campaigns created from audience segments (behavioral, demographic, specific opts-in, and more).
space
Share safely.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been talking about a new world of data sharing, but in healthcare the specter of privacy and regulation is always top of mind. When the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) became law, the first reaction by many in the industry was to lock down information. This “better safe than sorry” approach wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t what the regulators intended.
 
Karen DeSalvo, who at the time was a national coordinator for health information technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a recent speech that customers expect healthcare companies to share data to improve health outcomes, and that HIPAA requires this of healthcare companies. “It’s built into our DNA of medicine that we want to hold data, and we’re worried about exposing it because we don’t want to violate HIPAA. But data should flow by default. Yes, securely and privately, but it needs to do so on behalf of the consumers,” DeSalvo said.
Karen DeSalvo

 

“Data should flow by default. Yes, securely and privately, but it needs to be shared on behalf of the consumer.”
 
Karen DeSalvo
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

Investing in a digital platform that can integrate data within a healthcare-specific governance framework is key. Generic approaches simply don’t work for regulated industries. You can’t send nonencrypted general emails with any personal health information, for instance. However, a consumer’s wearable fitness data is not covered under HIPAA if held outside of a healthcare provider, but once it’s integrated in, it is. In other words, it’s complicated.
 
A technology partner who understands compliance for both security and privacy standards can help you improve health outcomes and revenue by sharing data, but keeping that data safe, private, and in line with regulations.
 
Take action: Commit to an interoperability mission statement where you define and rally around a philosophy of data sharing within a secure framework. This can guide your technology and partner choices.
space
 
The great wide open.
 
We now have more ways than ever to capture important health information, but without a framework to integrate and analyze that data, it’s simply filling up space on digital drives. No matter if your patients have a pacemaker that monitors data wirelessly or simply want to receive appointment reminders via text message, start integrating data into a unified profile. The industry is still in flux, and we must tread carefully. But if we begin integrating and sharing our medical data safely, our countries, communities, and patients will receive better experiences while our companies can thrive.
Adobe


Download the full Econsultancy report on digital marketing trends in healthcare.

 

space
Arliss Coates, “Digital Transformation in Pharma: Pfizer’s ‘Dare to Try’ Project,” Econsultancy, March 3, 2017, https://econsultancy.com/blog/68861-digital-transformation-in-pharma-pfizer-s-dare-to-try-project/
 
Dani Cooper, “New Wearable Device Analyses Sweat to Detect Health Problems,” ABC Science, January 27, 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-01-28/new-wearable-device-measures-sweat-to-track-your-health/7118234
 
“Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2017 Digital Trends in Healthcare and Pharma,” Econsultancy, 2017.
 
“New insights into Value-Based Care: Healthcare Attitudes 2016,” Xerox, 2016, http://www.baseinc.com/sites/default/files/imce/u4/healthcare-attitudes-2016.pdf
 
Robert Jimison, “Fitness Tracker Clues Woman In to Life-Threatening Condition,” CNN, April 13, 2017,
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/03/health/fitbit-heart-rate-blood-clots/
 
SINTEF, “Big Data, for Better or Worse: 90% of World’s Data Generated Over Last Two Years,” Science Daily, May 22, 2013, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522085217.htm
 
Tom Sullivan, “ONC Chief Karen DeSalvo: Time to Change the Culture of Interoperability and Health Data Sharing,” Healthcare IT News, June 1, 2016,
http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/onc-chief-karen-desalvo-time-change-culture-interoperability-and-health-data-sharing