Healthcare still generates vast amounts of analog data, producing 300 million sheets of paper and 1.5 million GB of digital data a year. The comparatively modest volume of digital data today is likely to increase sharply in the future, which is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). Despite this, new technologies are driving digitalization in the healthcare sector.
For the most part, the Swiss healthcare system is still facing digital transformation. Electronic payments backwards, online shopping forwards, In hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and nursing homes, Mr. and Mrs. Schweizer still notice little of the benefits of digitalisation. This should and will change in the coming years – not least because there is a great potential here in the fight against rising healthcare costs.
The ZHAW study comes to the conclusion that around 1.5 million GB of digital health data in the form of images (X-rays, photos, etc.) and text files are generated every year in Switzerland. “73% of this data is generated in the 240 hospitals, a further 11% by the 12,000 specialists throughout Switzerland,” says Florian Liberatore, head of the ZHAW study. It is these two players who most frequently use data-intensive imaging methods. The still comparatively modest digital data volume of 1.5 million GB corresponds to only 0.5% of the data volume transmitted each year by smartphones on Swisscom’s network.
The analogue data generated every year in the Swiss healthcare system fills around 300 million sheets of A4 paper, which corresponds to 500,000 federal files full of paper. 43% of this is generated by general practitioners and specialists. Another 17% are in nursing homes, where the documentation is still often on paper.
Data volume grows faster than in other industries
In the healthcare sector, the volume of data is expected to grow significantly faster in the coming years than overall across all application areas. “The main drivers are new technologies in the field of imaging and analysis as well as the increasing collection of sensory and other exogenous data”, says Liberatore, head of the study. The experts also assume that the introduction of the electronic patient file (EPD) will contribute to the growth of the total volume. The EPD will facilitate access to digital health data, which will lead to more copies and local storage.
Digital means easier access and more efficiency
Digitisation and the EPD make health information easily and securely accessible for patients and caregivers. According to the Swiss eHealth Barometer 2017, 76% of the population are positive or at least neutral about the EPD. Mr and Mrs Schweizer will receive more transparency in future, but also more responsibility for their data. The healthcare system as a whole is gaining in efficiency and quality. Florian Liberatore of the ZHAW is convinced that “the trend towards digitisation is a great opportunity to optimize processes and reduce duplication.”
One of the solutions is healthbank. On this health platform, all data that already belonged to the patient can be collected and stored in such a way that this data can be used for different purposes and different possibilities, which is aways in the knowledge of the patient, who has sovereignty over his data via healthbank. The innovative idea behind it: healthbank, organised as a cooperative, combines the data from all facets of the health system and rewards its members for participating in research projects. The management and commercialisation of health data has long been a major issue in the healthcare sector. Today we have stored our health data in various places, at the doctor’s, in the hospital or on mobile health apps – it is incredibly difficult to bring these data together and handle them sensibly. The solution is healthbank.
Further information: www.healthbank.coop
Author: Roger Huber