The Importance of Viewing Data as an Asset in the Healthcare Industry

Data is important. That’s not news to anyone in the healthcare industry — or in any industry, for that matter. However, seeing data as important isn’t enough; it’s crucial for professionals in the healthcare industry to view data as an asset. While the healthcare industry is privy to some of the most confidential and sensitive information, it has notoriously lagged behind in the adoption of data-as-an-asset adoption. What’s the difference between seeing data as important and seeing it as a true asset? Why is it so important for healthcare organizations to adopt this mindset now? And what are the benefits of treating data in this manner?  

Data as an Asset: Why Now?

The idea that data should be seen as an asset is not new. For over 20 years, the technology and business industries have understood, or at least acknowledged, that data plays a critical role in an organization’s success and should be seen — and treated — as an asset. But every once in a while, a renewed push to convince organizations to start treating their data as a valuable asset emerges, and in recent years we’ve seen it happen yet again. This resurgence has led many to think “Why now?” Here are some reasons why data-as-an-asset adoption is so crucial at this stage.

Big Data and the IoT

Data as an asset and the IoT

Big data consistently talks about the amount of data, the speed of data, and the variability of data, and there’s a reason for that. Those three features create some of the most formidable challenges in healthcare. The Internet of Things (IoT) is also a major factor in why observing data as an asset is so critical at this stage in the game. Everyone is connected from everywhere at every moment, and information moves faster than ever. Interconnected devices and objects facilitate lightning-fast communication and data transfer. In this environment, if we’re not making a commitment to see data as a true asset worthy of the same protection, dedication, and governance as our financial or physical assets, we risk security, privacy, and quality of care in the process.

The Gap Between Business and IT

Viewing data as an asset can help bridge the gap between IT and business.

Another reason that the data-as-an-asset movement is in full swing once more is a renewed awareness of the gap between business and IT concerns. The business side of healthcare tends to be disconnected from the pressing IT and technological concerns that power it, and this disconnect can serve as a major drawback. Viewing data as an asset requires that business and IT minds come together to formulate systems and procedures to protect, utilize, and prioritize types of data and to ensure that said data is centrally governed and widely accessible. Not only do these activities help to bridge the gap between business and IT professionals, but it also helps to create a stronger, data-driven culture that can facilitate a higher quality of care.

Increased Security Needs

Seeing data as an asset can help address increased security needs.

The increased connectivity and speed at which data is shared also increases the need for tighter security measures. Seeing data as an asset is no longer optional of HCOs want to protect the privacy and security of both their patients and the organization as a whole. Data governance best practices can help to ensure that organizations and offices within the healthcare system are protecting critical sensitive information and meeting modern security demands.

Higher Patient and Consumer Standards

Patients and consumers alike have begun to expect a higher level of care and service. With the increasing availability of customization — from personalized product suggestions to decreased wait times and order-ahead capabilities — the public now expects a higher standard of service. This heightened expectation runs the gamut from how quickly someone can get their coffee to how efficient and relevant their healthcare experience is. It’s important for HCOs to meet this need and provide patients the personalized, efficient, and effective care they expect and deserve. Seeing data as an asset can go a long way to facilitating this end goal by prioritizing data and utilizing it more effectively to create patient-centered solutions.

Data as an Organizational Asset in Practice

Data-centeredness is no longer an abstract idea in the healthcare industry. Instead, data-centered culture is quickly becoming the norm, and that’s a good thing. But for organizations that are still trying to make the transition, the practical implications of data-as-an-asset mindsets can be difficult to grasp. Here are a few considerations.

Moving From Departmental Silos to Central Management

Data as an asset best practices require central management of all data.

One of the best moves an HCO can make is to move their data from departmental silos to central management. The centralization of data is one of the best practices of data governance and can help facilitate an efficient and seamless transition of data between HCO participants and, in some cases, patients. When the entire organization owns and has access to its data, the entire HCO begins to work as a team. This is the beauty of seeing data as an asset — connectivity, governance, and efficiency.

A Renewed Focus on the Patient or End User

Additionally, there’s been a renewed focus on quality-centered and patient-centered valuations of effectiveness in the healthcare industry. Paying for services and judging the quality of or performance of a healthcare professional or organization by the number of services they perform is becoming a thing of the past, and it’s probably for the best. Instead, HCOs and caregivers alike are now subjected to a higher standard of efficacy: the quality of care that patients receive. Since quality of care is the primary focus, data has to be seen as an asset because it’s one of the most important and instructive assets the healthcare industry has when it comes to developing an understanding of how best to serve patients.

Benefits of Treating Data as an Asset

Treating data as an asset means treating it the same way you would financial assets.

Adopting a new mindset is never easy, and transitioning from one way of viewing a profession or task to another takes work and willingness. But there are many benefits awaiting HCOs and practitioners who are willing to make the effort. Data-as-an-asset mentality holds within it the potential to radically improve the healthcare industry in many ways. Here are a few of the benefits that can be obtained by treating healthcare data as an asset.

Increased Security

Anything that an organization views as an asset will necessarily be guarded more strictly and governed more responsibly. To that end, viewing data as an asset tends to lead to overall increased data security. Given that the healthcare industry interacts with some of the most sensitive data in existence, the benefit of increased data security alone would be worth the transition for most HCOs.

Higher Levels of Accuracy

When data is viewed and managed as an asset, more eyes are on it and more redundancies are put in place. This tends to create higher levels of accuracy across the board. The centralization of data that is necessary for HCOs transitioning to a data-centered culture also improves accuracy because no single department has ownership over any subset of the organization’s data. Since data is widely available and centrally managed, cross-checks, references, and other methods of error-proofing can be done in a more efficient manner. This, of course, increases both the level of data security and the accuracy of the data involved.

Better Patient Health and Improved Trust

Perhaps one of the most important benefits HCOs can obtain by viewing data as an asset is the heightened quality of care and increased levels of trust experienced on the patient’s side. When accuracy is improved, security is stronger, and data can be shared and utilized across the organization, healthcare practitioners and administrators can make better decisions in a timelier manner. This, of course, can only lead to a higher quality of patient care, and increased patient care tends to lead to an overall increase in the trust patients have regarding the healthcare system as a whole. When patients trust the healthcare system to provide them with effective, efficient, and relevant care, the entire system benefits.

Conclusion

Knowing that your organizational data is an asset and seeing your data as an asset are two different things. It’s time to put on new glasses and truly understand the concept of data being an organizational asset requiring strategy, consolidation, and centralization. When organizational leadership sees — and treats — data as an asset, they inevitably begin to transform their focus and behavior into one of renewed patient-centeredness. This mindset shift leads to new strategies that can help everyone in the healthcare system from physicians and administrative professionals to the true most important player in the healthcare industry: the patient.