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MDT Survey: Data-Driven Medicine Slow to Gain Momentum: Respondents see definite shift toward outcome-oriented healthcare strategies.

At the beginning of 2018, instead of having our trusty editor try to predict the future of medical technology he invited readers to participate in an online Roundtable Survey to help us delve into the unknown. Now, we've followed-up with another Roundtable Survey to see what direction Data-Driven Medicine and outcome-based healthcare strategies have taken as we near the end of 2018. The results, from 117 readers surveyed, indicate Data-Driven Medicine remains on the cusp of healthcare integration, while outcome-based patient strategies have become more prevalent.

Data-Driven Strategies

Still trending, Big Data, artificial intelligence, and deep learning continue to play a vital role in revolutionizing medicine and the healthcare industry. Today, digital data provides critical information to healthcare providers, patients, pharmacies, and insurance companies. This information not only comes from inside the clinic, but also from outside clinic walls with wireless devices like wearables. These technological tools have increased the quality of patient care, but have also raised concerns of security for patients. With a plethora of "what-ifs" and apprehension from healthcare companies and patients, there are still advocates standing behind Big Data and its ability to help save lives. Here, we delve into our Round-table Survey results of where the healthcare community stands when it comes to Data-Driven Medicine:

Q1: Since the beginning of 2018, what kind of growth have you seen in Data-Driven Medicine?

* 36.8% - We have seen more interest in Data-Driven Medicine

* 23.9% - Our company has increased its usage of Data-Driven Medicine

* 44.4% - No change: we are not using Data-Driven Medicine at this time, and arc uncertain if and when we will implement it

Q2: What effect is Data-Driven medicine having on your company's products and business strategies?

* 21.4% - Data-Driven Medicine is already having an impact on our products and services

* 25.6% - We are using Data-Driven Medicine, but don't have enough data to gauge its impact

* 13.7% - We expect to implement Data-Driven Medicine within the next year

* 39.3% - We do not plan to implement Data-Driven Medicine anytime soon

In comparison, at the beginning of 2018, approximately 27 percent said Data-Driven Medicine would strongly influence their plans going into the year. The latest responses indicate more companies do not plan to implement Data-Driven Medicine. That's somewhat surprising given all the buzz Data-Driven Medicine has generated at industry trade shows and conferences, and in the media. However, a closer look at the hurdles may provide a clue.

Q3: What are the major obstacles to the growth of Data-Driven Medicine?

* 10.4% - Most organizations we work with are not actively involved with supporting Data-Driven Medical practices

* 12.2% - Every organization I work with has its own set of standards for Data-Driven Medical applications

* 26.9% - Few standards exist that define what data is needed, how it's shared, and how it's used

* 18.3% - There are few guidelines and best practices to implement Data-Driven Medical applications

* 32.2% - My organization is not actively involved with Data-Driven Medicine at this time

Figure 1 shows that companies are still hesitant to jump into Data-Driven Medicine. As the year progressed, organizations that created an individual set of standards for Data-Driven Medical applications decreased by approximately 17 percent. Additionally, the guidelines and best practices available have seemed to decrease since the beginning of the year, perhaps making it harder for organizations to create their own individual set of standards.

Q4: How do you think patients will perceive Data-Driven Medicine?

* 31.0% - Patients will be receptive to Data-Driven Medicine

* 18.1% - Patients are skeptical or opposed to Data-Driven Medicine

* 50.9% - Patients are unaware what Data-Driven Medicine is

One major hurdle with digital health care is the majority of our respondents still believe that patients are unaware of what Data-Driven medicine is (Figure 2). This may indicate the need for more transparency and education between the patient and doctor as Data-Driven Medicine continues to proliferate in healthcare industries.

Q5: What do you see as the major upcoming trends in Data-Driven Medicine?

An array of responses provided insight on what our readers thought might be upcoming trends for Data-Driven Medicine. While some individuals expressed monitoring and regulation concerns, others saw no particular major trends in the near future, and some foresaw Big Data as a major player for the personalization of medicine and treatment plans.

Most saw Data-Driven Medicine as a trend that would become more prevalent in 2019, and a tool that might be helpful in the medical industry if it started to take strength. One reader believes that "Data-Driven Medicine is the way to go in this dispensation, and will be widely acceptable in most organizations." Some mentioned that chatbots and wearables might drive self-diagnostics, automated self-care and patient involvement, while also increasing shareable data with the patient and doctor. This increase of data could ignite complexity and initiate confusion when interpreting the data, but "education is key to the patient," says one reader.

With talk of more information and more advancements, one reader explains that "each new advancement will cany with it individual upgrades that will provide new insights. It's hard to really 'nail down' these individual upgrades at this time." These unknowns surfaced discussion of needing the right tools to manage advancements and gain control of the ongoing data. One respondent indicates there will be a "sharp increase for the need of efficiently testing the digital tools necessary to implement Data-Driven Medicine." Another says Data-Driven Medicine will "need to effect some standardization to enable the seamless sharing of data between interested parties."

Others looked at specific, possible uses for Data-Driven Medicine in the future. One reader believes it "will help identify the different populations affected by different diseases, and be able to streamline treatments of new diseases when they are able to be treated." Another respondent explains Data-Driven Medicine will encourage better-educated patients to go to "their doctors having done their own research on their symptoms and treatment options." Additionally, this could affect "oncology therapy, where early decisions are critical to patient survival rates."

According to our results and feedback, Data-Driven Medicine is a surfacing trend to patients, although many remain unaware of its occurrence. Overall, almost 40 percent have seen growth in companies incorporating these Data-Driven strategies since the beginning of 2018.

Outcome-Based Healthcare Strategies

In order to gain control of the costs of healthcare, value-based or outcome-based healthcare relies on a model in which providers are compensated based on patient health outcomes, rather than the services they deliver. This will undoubtedly impact healthcare providers and insurance carriers, but will also influence the way medical products are created in order to align with better patient outcomes and results. A large majority of respondents (Figure 3) supported the rise of outcome-based healthcare strategies.

Q6: Do you see the use of outcome-based healthcare strategies growing in the U.S. healthcare system?

* 65.1% - Yes

* 16.9% - No

* 17.9% - Other explanation

As most saw outcome-based healthcare strategies growing, some respondents raised just as equally important questions and concerns. As one reader put it: "Why pay for treatment if it isn't proven?" Another reader says, "The healthcare industry's obsession with the bottom line growth is often viewed with cynicism and negation." Some raised concerns of providers proactively seeking out patients who would result in better outcomes. While agreed that outcome-based healthcare is in our future, respondents are still unsure when exactly it will take off.

Q7: When do you see outcome-based healthcare strategies significantly affecting the U.S. public healthcare system (i.e. Medicare/Medicaid & Veterans Admin)?

* 29.5% - These strategies are beginning to influence how healthcare is delivered and paid for

* 29.5% - Within one to five years

* 30.5% - Over five years away

* 10.5% - Don't see it happening

Compared to the beginning of 2018, there has been approximately a 7.5 percent increase in respondents believing outcome-based strategies are already affecting the public healthcare system.

Q8: When do you expect outcome-based healthcare strategies to begin playing a significant role in how healthcare providers treat their patients, and how healthcare insurance companies compensate them?

* 33.9% - They are already beginning to influence how healthcare is delivered and paid for

* 34.9% - Within the next one to five years

* 22.6% - Over five years away

* 8.5% - Unlikely to happen

Interestingly, since the first survey, there has been a 13 percent increase in respondents believing outcome-based strategies have already played a role on how healthcare providers treat their patients.

Q9: With the healthcare industry starting to adopt outcome-based treatment and compensation strategies, how will it affect your company?

* 28.3% - My company is unaffected

* 9.4% - It will adversely affect sales or create additional burdens on us that we won't be able to charge for

* 28.3% - It will provide new business opportunities and/or additional revenue

* 33.9% - We are not clear on how outcome-based treatment and compensation strategies will affect us

Now, more individuals seem to have an "it's complicated" relationship with outcome-based strategies affecting their company. Approximately, 24 percent more respondents are unclear on how outcome-based treatment and compensation will affect them compared to the beginning of 2018. It is possible that the growing awareness of outcome-oriented healthcare has led to greater ambiguity and more questions about healthcare strategies.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the business aspect of outcome-oriented healthcare has also come into greater scrutiny. At the start of 2018, over 40 percent of readers thought this would provide new business opportunities and profits; now, only 28 percent foresee new opportunities.

Predicting the Future

Today, we have more smartphone apps to help diagnose diseases, chatbots that are available 24/7, and wearables that provide pertinent, real-time data to doctors. These breakthroughs in technology, materials, and bioengineering give clinicians and doctors the opportunity to deliver more services and more accurate diagnostics, but this comes with a variety of opinions when predicting what will become of Data-Driven Medicine. Additionally, with these advancements, outcome-based treatments become more noticeable on our radar. Although no one can see into the future, our follow-up Roundtable survey has indicated Data-Driven Medicine and outcome-based healthcare strategies are definitely in our fortune-telling crystal ball for 2019.

By Tierney King, Associate Editor
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Title Annotation:Roundtable MDT Survey on Healthcare
Author:King, Tierney
Publication:Medical Design Technology
Date:Nov 1, 2018
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