Get ready for another Healthcare Data Bytes episode and some amazing discourse on how big brands can use data for good. This week Michelle Reed, the podcast’s brilliant host and AnaylticsIQ’s resident healthcare expert, is sitting down with former-nurse turned college professor, Charles Boicey, to talk about the ways consumer data can empower healthcare organizations and help make strides towards more equitable care.

What is Healthcare Informatics?

Healthcare informatics, also known as health informatics or medical informatics, represents a cutting-edge field that harnesses the power of technology, data science, and information management to transform the landscape of healthcare as we know it. And in a world where technology is reshaping industries, healthcare informatics and data are certainly playing their own role within healthcare.

According to Charles, who knows a thing or two about this topic thanks to his role as a professor of Applied Health Informatics at Stony Brook University, the concept of healthcare informatics is one of his favorite things to teach because of the way it blends both data and technology to help healthcare providers continue improving aspects of patients’ lives. Taking a view like this helps both data scientists and healthcare organizations to get a bigger picture of the different SDOH factors impacting patients’ lives, access to care, and more.

Charles, Vanderbilt, and What He’s Up To

One of Charles’ most recent projects at Vanderbilt focuses on social determinants of health to understand pediatric populations with early on-set juvenile diabetes. Through the use of data and analytics, Charles and his students were able to take a categorical level look at the makeup of different these households and understand characteristics like what different age groups might occupy the residence, how many family members might reside there, household income-level, and more. Armed with this knowledge, Charles and the team were able to develop a model to help them understand why some diabetic pediatric patients might fare better in the first year as compared to others.

And what they found brings us right back to the importance of social determinants of health.

According to the data, Charles found that diabetic children who lived with and were cared for by their grandparents were less successful within their treatment plans as compared to their parents. Most often times, this is related to the grandparent’s own health issues and other social determinants of health like income and transportation.

The Four Walls of Health

Knowing things that might prevent access to health is incredibly important when it comes to achieving better patient care. When faced with a better understanding of an individual patient’s social determinant of health, more accessible and successful healthcare plans can be put in place. For example, if a patient does not have a car or access to proper transportation, it’s important for healthcare providers to know this so they can address the healthcare problems that might come as a result. As Michelle put it, if we don’t have a complete picture, we can’t determine the best way to treat it.

Healthcare Systems’ Adoption of External Data

Many healthcare systems have taken a cautious approach when it comes to adopting SDOH data from third-party providers into their systems and treatment plans. For Charles, he feels this might be a result of some systems and organizations disliking the “creepy factor”, as he put it, often associated with data. The fact data can know so much about a single person can feel creepy to some, but this is exactly why he likes to speak on the importance of ethical, accurate data and the many ways this data can be used for good.

It’s important that healthcare systems and providers remember just that: this data is for good.

The purpose of using people-based data is not to spy or creep on patients, but to rather better inform everyone across the healthcare space on the different barriers and SDOH factors they might be facing to improve health equity and patient outcomes.

Interested in Learning More?

At AnalyticsIQ believe in using big data for good and are proud to partner with amazing healthcare research organizations, major health systems, retail healthcare brands, and pharmaceutical brands that are focused on delivering better and more equitable outcomes.

For more information on AnalyticsIQ and how HealthIQ and SDOH data can help your organization to better serve your community, please visit our Health page. We love to partner to solve complex issues with the power of predictive data.