Following a year marked by one challenging headline after another in 2020, news in the fight against COVID-19 will likely turn better in 2021 thanks to improved treatments and the arrival of effective vaccines. From a Health IT standpoint, however, both the good news and the bad are together fueling a steady growth in data volumes and complexity that will require new levels of IT coordination and data management.
The reason for this is that medical professionals now have a year’s worth of health metrics on the spread of COVID-19 and reams of structured, unstructured, and behavioral data on treatment regimens and patient outcomes. At the same time, a similar avalanche of data is growing around the administration and efficacy of newly-approved vaccines. Taken together, these factors present challenges of both complexity and scale.
Let’s take a look at three resulting trends we’ll likely see in 2021 as data-driven professionals seek to address these challenges through better ways to leverage information for insight and action against the global pandemic.
Trend 1: Enhanced adoption of common health IT data standards – Whether it’s through the ANSI-accredited Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) schema or similar frameworks, we’ll see a push to standardize health-related data across mobile phone apps, cloud communications, EHR-based data sharing, server communication in large institutional healthcare providers, and more. The goal is to break down silos between these disparate data sources and platforms. And there’s a cultural component to the silo-busting as well, in that common standards and definitions for data can also help technologists and business users collaborate more efficiently. That can be a challenge in any domain area; but in the case of COVID-19, success around seamless, secure, and proactive analysis of data can literally save lives.