The Reliability of Health Data During Crises & Emergencies
Today, we will dive deep by emphasizing on: healthcare system resilience, the importance of data during crisis and emergency, the right of access to public information vs maintaining data privacy, the recommendations to improve data use during that period. So, let’s find a calm and comfortable seat, and discuss these topics further…
Healthcare system resilience during a crisis and emergency:
The consequences of disaster can affect and put an extra burden on basic human needs such as food, shelter, health, and security in the short term. A long term effect is more visible on education and the economy.
Resilient health care infrastructure is foundational during natural disasters, and pandemics as these crises will increase pressures on the already available system. This resilient system is defined by Jun Rentschler et al. in his report (Frontline: Preparing Healthcare Systems for Shocks from Disasters to Pandemics) as: its capacity to maintain everyday quality of protecting human life and well-being while triumphing, managing and rapidly recovering from the current disaster.
The importance of data during crisis and emergency:
- Pre-crisis: data can predict the magnitude of an emergency situation in the healthcare system, and prevents further damage.
- During crisis:
- A data-driven healthcare system helps support the infrastructure, monitor the resources and reveal the gaps and overlaps between supply and demand during routine and surge health situations.
- It suggests alternative or permanent plans and services and prioritizes the available finances, investments and human resources.
- It improves disease analysis, monitors progression, predicts a better action plan and enables effective response; for example, Matthew Robinson (2021) and his colleagues used a computer algorithm to anticipate the sickest patient who needs urgent treatment.
- Post-crisis: data can assess the efficacy of leadership and management plans that have been executed during the crisis, and can give insightful lessons that can be applied or avoided in the next disaster.
The balance between the right of access to public information vs maintaining data privacy during crisis and emergency:
UNESCO monitors and guarantees human right to access to the information within public authorities that includes the nature of the threat’s progression; the steps and decisions that are taken by the authorities to prevent this progression and protect the public; the emergency allocation of human resources, financial and equipment; and how to get more information.
During an emergency, using this information gives people security, autonomy and accountability when deciding for themselves or their family. Also, it should be accurate and based on evidence, not skewed, and anonymised as privacy protection is another human right.
However, the infrastructure of the data health system has the risk of cyberattacks either by penetrating into the personal patient’s data,or by disrupting health facilities administration systems.
The recommendations to improve data use during crisis and emergency:
Establishing an effective health data infrastructure both nationally and internationally that is based on diversity, ethics, shared values and interoperability. This system should manage the routine pre-crisis demands well before it can withstand the pressure during and post-crisis.
Investing in improving the skills of collecting, analysing and using data. Lessons from misuse of data, either by misinterpretation or violation of privacy and ethics, must be shared internationally.
Infodemic, defined by WHO as the spread of false or lack of information, should be well managed as it can lead to serious issues. It needs collaborative systemic study and evidence-based policies. The false information can be due to misinformation (unintentional) or disinformation (intentional).
Cyberattacks are continuously emerging. In addition to our need for a resilient healthcare system, we need a resilient health data system that responds to threats routinely and constantly to protect patient data, healthcare system administration, and treatment devices.
The next step:
It is not uncommon for 90% of a company’s or healthcare system’s data to go unused but here comes the tricky part: you never know when you will have to use a tiny part of that 90% in some of your analytics projects. From a purely business and medical perspective, the general rule of thumb is: when in doubt, collect data. Unfortunately, too many data projects fail at the very first step: reliable data collection which is the foundation of all further analytics efforts. Your customers may also ask for verification of certain data even after proper collection. And, you need to organize, audit and clean them before storage to ensure that your data analysis is based on high-quality data.
You arrive successfully at the appropriate organization that offers you all: data collection, organization, verification, cleaning and maintenance services. If you want to save your time, money and energy, get in touch with us and book your free consultation.