Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends Report

Harnessing the Power of Data in Health

A Message from Dean Lloyd Minor

Today across the world, enormous transformations are taking place in health care. Demographic, economic and technological changes are forcing us to reconsider everything about health care, from its delivery to its funding models, from education to scientific innovation and from the role of the physician to the role of pharmaceutical companies, payors and patients.

Like the rest of the world, health care is becoming increasingly connected but also increasingly disrupted. This poses both an opportunity and a challenge to institutions whose job it is to heal, innovate and educate. That’s why, given all of these forces shaping health care, I am very pleased to introduce Stanford Medicine’s inaugural Health Trends Report.

To produce the Report, we undertook a comprehensive review and analysis of existing health care research and open-source data, combined with insights from Stanford faculty and external health care experts, on the current and emerging trends facing the health care sector.

Data is changing how doctors, health care teams and institutions like Stanford partner together, how cost is rationalized to increase accessibility, and, most importantly, how we protect patient privacy and maintain patient trust.

We at Stanford Medicine believe in a vision of health care – Precision Health – that is more preventive, predictive, personalized and precise.

By leveraging big data and scientific advancements while maintaining the important doctor-patient bond, we believe we can create a health system that will go beyond curing disease after the fact to preventing disease before it strikes by focusing on health and wellness. But that is just the start.

We do not expect to provide all the answers here. But we do hope it’s the start of a lively debate and, if you have any feedback or thoughts, I’d be delighted to hear them.

Lloyd B. Minor, MD
Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine

Executive Summary

The future of health care is being shaped dramatically by a number of significant trends.  

With the cost of care on the rise, the industry is experiencing a shift toward preventive and value-based care. At the same time, technology like wearable devices, at-home testing services and telemedicine are empowering patients to be more engaged with and proactive about their own health. Meanwhile, the industry is grappling with the tension between encouraging data sharing to maximize the benefits of data and maintaining patient privacy and trust. All of these developments are altering the role of physicians and their relationships with patients.

Behind these trends is one fundamental force driving health care transformation: the power of data.

  • Medical research: Access to new, diverse data and open datasets are fueling drug discovery and making clinical trials and research more efficient.
  • Daily life: Wearable devices, online diagnostic tools and genetic sequencing services hold the promise of better informed and engaged patients.
  • The patient experience: Health systems are investing heavily in technology, including machine learning, which is proving as effective as or more effective than human diagnosticians.
  • Ongoing care: Telemedicine and health apps make it possible for physicians to see patients virtually, outside of traditional facilities for increased access and tailored care.
  • Prediction and prevention: Health data is allowing doctors to build better patient profiles and predictive models to more effectively anticipate, diagnose and treat disease.

When it comes to the road ahead, it will be absolutely vital that all players in the health care community, in both private and public sectors, come together to overcome several challenges.

  • Rising costs: Spiraling costs across the U.S. health care system could nullify the additive role data plays.
  • Data sharing and security: Silos and roadblocks prevent effective data sharing but, at the same time, privacy and security of patient data is paramount.
  • Policy and legislation: Data privacy and interoperability must be addressed at a legislative level to create a regulatory environment that encourages innovation and research while putting patients first.
  • Electronic medical records (EMRs): Frustrations with the design of electronic medical records undermine the physician-patient relationship.

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