Written by Maikel Kuijpers, Chief Information Officer & SVP Operations

Information-rich but insights-poor, healthcare organisations are sitting on a goldmine of data while being ambivalent about what to do with this. Untouched, unanalysed and unexamined, the valuable and potentially vital information becomes worthless.

Many organisations struggle with consolidating and translating the wealth of data they have into actionable insights because the data sits in segregated silos. These silos stem from the need to comply with strict data privacy policies and laws, resulting in various clinical, financial and operational data being housed separately.

Adding to the complexity is the increasing variation of unstructured data types generated from formats such as transcribed notes, images and videos.

The future of healthcare

While breaking down the ‘great walls’ that exist between these silos is a big hurdle to overcome, I’m optimistic that we are getting closer to achieving interoperability with the smarter use of technology such as Machine Learning and AI.

Harnessing the power of such sophisticated data technology enables us to process information at immense volume, velocity and variety across a spread of networks, and utilise the resulting quantitative evidence to guide decision making and actions.

Although still at a nascent stage, applications of big data in healthcare have tremendous potential for businesses to do more and reach new frontiers. I would like to highlight three areas that would reap the most benefits.

Prediction and Prevention – Data is helping healthcare practitioners to build better patient profiles and predictive models to more effectively anticipate, diagnose and treat diseases. This produces new insights and opportunities that would normally take generations to uncover, shifting the predominantly reactive practice to a proactive and preventive one.

Optimisation and Organisation – I believe that data is at the heart of sound decision making. With forecasting algorithms, healthcare leaders can anticipate future trends with ease and make better business choices backed by numbers instead of biases. Utilising data analytics to track trends and demand patterns also removes inefficiencies and reduces unnecessary costs. This is especially important given the rising costs of healthcare globally.

For instance, incorporating predictive analytics into supply chain management can minimise error rates of sales forecasts, thus optimising the supply chain and preventing potential stock-outs to ensure patients always get their medication on time.

Strengthening Your Core Capabilities – Contrary to the idea that digital transformation means replacing your core business or innovating outside of it, I firmly believe that innovation can and should help to support your current capabilities by making processes more lean and efficient. At Zuellig Pharma, we have been able to build a new platform of talents, innovations and solutions that enhances our distribution core. The Zuellig Health Solutions Innovation Centre has helped our distribution business with better customer segmentation, ultimately improving the quality of service we provide to clients. At the end of the day, we never lose sight of our mission to improve access to healthcare in Asia. Data is meant to help and not replace this.

Let Data be your North Star

We recognise that most organisations struggle to muster the appropriate data analytics expertise along with setting up the supporting technological infrastructure. As such, we hope to partner with them to make data consolidation and access much easier by creating customised platforms.

Apart from allowing large volumes of market data to be analysed at high-speed, digital solutions make these data insights accessible by creating user-friendly automated visualisation platforms. With this timely and handy information, businesses gain better control over their inventory and supply chain to improve access to healthcare.

I want to emphasise that data security, particularly around patient data, is of paramount importance to us. There are many different methods of protecting data, and our experts will take great care to work closely with you to secure, encrypt and control data access depending on your needs.

Yes, cleaning up and making sense of our data may seem daunting. It requires commitment, discipline, and investments in technology that need time and patience to master.

However, as digital transformation shows no signs of slowing down, our ability to keep up with the data must speed up! Let’s start taking concrete steps to tear down our data walls, one brick at a time. This way, we can finally leverage the full potential of the data that is in our hands in a secure and responsible way.