Aggregate data can optimize and streamline decision-making in every branch of the healthcare system—from manufacturing and administration to insurance and patient care. In the coming decades, aggregate data in healthcare will play an integral role in making the healthcare industry more transparent, more effective, and more reliable.
In this article, we discuss what aggregate is, how it can improve patient outcomes and business operations, and the question of privacy. You’ll also see some examples of aggregate data in healthcare.
What Is Aggregate Data?
Before discussing the benefits of aggregate data in healthcare, let’s define what it is more generally. Aggregate data is compiled data about specific groups or populations. You’re probably familiar with some of the more common aggregate indicators, such as average life expectancy, employment rates, gross domestic product (GDP), and population census.
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In each of these examples, the common thread is how the data is derived; aggregate data is generated from individual-level data and combined in such a way that larger patterns and trends emerge. Researchers interpret these patterns to describe the way things are and study the trends to predict how things will be.
This can help identify where resources are lacking and where they could be better allocated. In other words, aggregate data plays a critical role in policy-making and administrative decisions. In general, aggregate data is anonymous and is represented by a number tally or total count.
How Do You Gather Aggregate Data in Healthcare?
In health systems, aggregate data is built on single-patient data. Today, this information is collected from two primary data sources.
The first is through a patient’s electronic medical record (EHR). Each time a patient interacts with healthcare professionals, their personal data is updated in their EHR. This includes identifying information such as name, age, weight, medical history, any prior or current diagnosis, any prior or current treatment, genetic profile, and even family medical history.
The second way to generate individual data is tied to more recent advances in technology. Healthcare professionals now rely on wearables—such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and safety devices—to collect and store essential health and other information. This includes things like sleep patterns, activity patterns, and location data.
By centralizing thousands upon thousands of relevant, de-identified single-patient data, experts can create composite models of entire patient populations. This makes it possible to derive novel insights that lead to more effective treatment methods. Additionally, aggregate data can help researchers shed light on disease epidemiology.
Examples of Aggregate Data in Healthcare
When optimized and analyzed correctly, aggregate data has the power to save countless lives and improve patient outcomes. How? By offering essential insight that drives decision-making. Here are some examples of how data aggregation can benefit the healthcare industry.
- Improve the Reliability, Confidence, and Quality of Data
One of the fundamental characteristics of aggregate data is its large sample size. By combining hundreds—and even thousands—of individual-level data, researchers are able to increase the reliability and confidence of statistical analysis.
- Optimize Healthcare Product Development
Better data means better product development. Moreover, aggregate data provides researchers with a clearer picture of how many people are afflicted with a particular illness. This helps companies better meet product supply and demand.
- Effective Monitoring of Healthcare Trends
On an individual basis, healthcare practitioners can use aggregate data to form predictive models for patient outcomes in real-time. On a larger scale, experts can gain indispensable insight into coming waves of illness, as well as the most effective treatment options, by monitoring population patterns.
- Maintain Trust and Transparency
Access to aggregate data allows everyone in the medical supply chain to be on the same page. This builds trust through transparency, aligning the insights and goals of product manufacturers, healthcare providers, insurance agencies, and patients.
Does Aggregate Data Protect Patient Privacy?
Since the early-2000’s, there’s been a cultural shift towards data sharing. Thanks to social media, more and more people have become comfortable with it. In medicine, the same trend is well underway. The focus now is on balancing individual privacy with life-saving scientific opportunities.
Luckily, aggregate data is one of the best ways to protect privacy while leveraging the power of Big Data analytics. By removing any identifying information, aggregate data can produce cohesive and shareable information that translates to actionable medical insight.
Each of us stands to benefit from the improved medical treatments derived from our collective healthcare data. This is good for patients, doctors, insurance payers, and public health organizations.
The Future of Aggregate Data in Healthcare
Big Data is fundamentally changing the way healthcare is delivered. Like Uber and Airbnb, the future of healthcare is decentralized. Instead of doctors, algorithms will be able to detect early signs of disease and help doctors prescribe personalized treatment options.
This data will even be checked against your genetic information, giving you the power to make fully informed decisions about your own health.
In our post-pandemic world, aggregate data is already helping to identify breakout hot spots and control the spread of disease. Though complex, understanding population data is essential to improving and optimizing health delivery systems.
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Leverage the Power of Healthcare Aggregate Data, With True North
You now understand how aggregate data in healthcare improves and facilitates medical decision-making at every level—from product development and administration to insurance claims data and patient care. In the coming decades, aggregate data will play an integral role in making healthcare centers more transparent, effective, and reliable.
At True North, we’re committed to helping healthcare organizations strategize and implement the right analytics. Contact us today to discover how you can leverage the power of aggregate data.