In the early 2000s, Jeff Bezos gave a seminal TED Talk titled “The Electricity Metaphor for the Web’s Future.” In it, he argued that the internet will enable innovation on the same scale that electricity did.
We are at a similar inflection point in healthcare, with the recent movement toward data transparency birthing a new generation of innovation and startups.
Those who follow the space closely may have noticed that there are twin struggles taking place: a push for more transparency on provider and payer data, including anonymous patient data, and another for strict privacy protection for personal patient data. What’s the main difference?
This sector is still somewhat nascent — we are in the first wave of innovation, with much more to come.
Anonymized data is much more freely available, while personal data is being locked even tighter (as it should be) due to regulations like GDPR, CCPA and their equivalents around the world.
The former trend is enabling a host of new vendors and services that will ultimately make healthcare better and more transparent for all of us.
These new companies could not have existed five years ago. The Affordable Care Act was the first step toward making anonymized data more available. It required healthcare institutions (such as hospitals and healthcare systems) to publish data on costs and outcomes. This included the release of detailed data on providers.
Later legislation required biotech and pharma companies to disclose monies paid to research partners. And every physician in the U.S. is now required to be in the National Practitioner Identifier (NPI), a comprehensive public database of providers.
All of this allowed the creation of new types of companies that give both patients and providers more control over their data. Here are some key examples of how.
Allowing patients to access all their own health data in one place
This is a key capability of patients’ newly found access to health data. Think of how often, as a patient, providers aren’t aware of treatment or a test you’ve had elsewhere. Often you end up repeating a test because a provider doesn’t have a record of a test conducted elsewhere.