Image created by author © 2023 All Rights Reserved
For the NHS to achieve its Long Term Plan, it needs to move from silos to system working, from reactive to proactive care. But how? By establishing an integrated digital ecosystem.
A digital ecosystem will drive the reduction of health inequalities and provide targeted, personalised, and preventative care, as well as fuel the transition to population health management. The future of healthcare lies within a digital ecosystem.
The NHS is implementing more and more digital health technologies, gradually creating such an ecosystem. However, within all of this technological progress, one critical aspect cannot be overlooked—the heartbeat of digital ecosystems: data.
Not just any data
Ecosystems in the natural world rely on soil to support the lives of plants and animals. Similarly, data serves as the soil within healthcare's digital ecosystem, allowing healthcare to cultivate robust care services. Data in healthcare serves as fertile ground, empowering well-informed decisions, predicting health issues early, tailoring precise treatments, and enabling community-wide preventive initiatives. Moreover, it acts as a catalyst, fueling AI, novel therapies, and service improvements.
However, just like in nature, the ecosystem's success relies on the quality of its soil. If the soil is devoid of nutrients, the whole ecosystem suffers. In healthcare, decisions are only as good as the data they're based on. So, it's not just about having data; it's about having high-quality data.
A blurry image
Consider the Fracture Liaison Service (FLS); it aims to identify patients at-risk of osteoporotic fragility fractures. Without comprehensive data, finding at-risk patients becomes nearly impossible. It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack, except you don’t even know what the needle looks like. And so, many individuals go unidentified and fall, which increases the risk of subsequent fractures. These fragility fractures not only cost the NHS billions of pounds every year but also drastically diminish patients' quality of life.
It is only when the data collected is granular that healthcare can reap the benefits, like taking preventative actions such as identifying and treating patients at risk of fragility fractures before the condition escalates. Therefore, the coding language employed by digital health solutions must be capable of capturing data that effectively reflects the complexities of health circumstances.
Quality over quantity
At Open Medical, our digital solutions employ SNOMED CT (Systematised Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms), a coding language that is widely used in 48 countries around the world. By guaranteeing the depth and accuracy of data, SNOMED CT empowers our users to confidently make precise, data-driven decisions.
Take, for instance, our trauma and orthopaedic (T&O) management platform. As clinicians use the system to manage their clinical workflow, it simultaneously captures detailed data from all patients entering the T&O department. When used in conjunction with our Pathpoint FLS system, Pathpoint FLS can automatically flag patients at risk of fragility fractures based on specific triggers and provide management tools for further support.
This has had a tremendous impact; for example, within just a month of using Pathpoint FLS, one care organisation was able to identify as many patients as they had in the preceding year. These patients, who may have previously gone unnoticed, are now receiving life-changing care, keeping them from potentially disastrous falls that would have robbed them of their autonomy.
But here’s the kicker with high-quality data capture, it’s not about abundance; it’s about precision. SNOMED CT coding allows for the complexity of health concepts to be captured. So, for example, our T&O management system captures granular information such as the mechanism of injury or the height of a fall, and this, in turn, allows for Pathpoint FLS to identify the right patients.
If the system simply processed a bunch of data rather than being able to create accurate concepts from it, way too many patients would be flagged, and half of them would not actually be eligible. So without quality and just quantity, the sought benefits crumble. With quality and precision, however, healthcare can have a holistic view of its patients, allowing prevention and proactive measures to take centre stage.
A thriving ecosystem
The right choice of language for digital health tools is critical. It’s not enough to implement a solution that captures data; it needs to capture rich, detailed data.
At Open Medical, our commitment to employing SNOMED CT is a conscious choice to articulate the complexities of healthcare in a language that ensures profundity, clarity, and a shared understanding across borders. It bridges the gaps between information and actionable insights, transforming raw data into impactful decisions.
So, the next time you are choosing a digital solution, select one that doesn’t just process data but one that provides quality-rich data so the ecosystem can thrive.