Aggregated data

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Aggregate Data and Healthcare


Aggregate data is used to develop information about groups of patients. It allows healthcare professionals to to identify common characteristics that might predict the course of the disease or provide information about the most effective way to treat a disease. It is often used for disease prevention purposes. This can be done through patient interviews, research, and statistical data. Researchers could identify connections between lung cancer and smoking or diabetes and exercise through the use of aggregated data. It is a great way to educate patients and healthcare professionals on the statistical relationship of various healthcare conditions and patient lifestyle decisions.


Public Health


Aggregated data is an important part of public health. It provides researchers information that promotes patient safety, prevention and awareness. The impact of multiple environmental exposures within a given area is a good example of using aggregated data for public health awareness. Environmental exposures has various categories; chemical (contaminated water), radiation (x-rays), air pollutants (gas) and occupational hazards (lead). Assessing population exposure distribution allows researchers to define healthcare outcomes and quantify the association between exposure and response. It also verifies risk characterization which estimates the number of people affected, duration and severity of condition caused by the environmental agent {1}.


Research/Education


Education is an important part of healthcare. It encourages better patient care because healthcare professionals become confident and knowledgeable of healthcare data which makes them comfortable completing their healthcare duties. Aggregated data provides educators and researchers raw real-time data to help establish standard information for education and research. Cancer is a disease that must be studied to obtain information regarding treatment options, medication requirements, progression, etc. A recent study was performed to assess the efficacy and venerability of chemotherapy in patients with advanced gastric cancer on a group of patients. Clinical trials were conducted on first-line chemotherapy patients with gastric cancer receiving medication assistance during their treatment. The results showed that the best survival results were achieved with a combination of chemotherapy and a three-drug regimen containing FU, an anthracycline, and cisplatin. This research information through aggregated data has allowed our healthcare team to learn how to manage patients with gastric cancer aggressively and effectively {2}.


Patient Care Cost


The cost of healthcare can be very expensive for the average person. The majority of insurance companies will only cover a small portion of healthcare cost and the rest is left up to the patient. Through aggregated data research healthcare professionals are able to provide patients a cost estimate of their care before they get the recommended treatment/procedures. This allows patients to prepare for upcoming healthcare cost that might not be covered by their insurance company. This is a good way to prevent financial burden from impacting the patient and their families during this transition.


Marketing


Marketing is an important part of buying and selling products in healthcare. Through marketing patient prescriptions, treatments, procedures, EHR vendors, hospital equipment and preferred physicians are recommended. It gives our healthcare team and patients the opportunity to learn different avenues they can take that best fits their needs and situation. It also promotes a growing economy within the healthcare industry. If we didn't have proof of research and experience through aggregated data we wouldn't be able to market products with productive information that guarantees effective results.


Privacy and Security


Patient information must be kept private in all participating hospitals and clinics. The use of aggregated data with patient information has been questioned as far a adhering to patient confidentiality standards. Things such as patient social security numbers, fingerprints, address information or phone numbers is often documented within patient aggregated data and can be at risk for intrusion. A web client is a server application that enhances the browser to support special services from a internet site. The special services promote patient confidentiality by using specific query tools to lessen the chance of invaded patient information. HIPAA is encouraging the growth of the web client application in the near future. Proven data from this site is still being studied at this time {3}.


Patient permission


Patients must provide providers permission to use their information for aggregated data purposes. Aggregated data must come from patient information and without patient consent we wouldn't have the opportunity obtain this data. When patients sign a consent they are telling the provider that they can use this information for research studies, marketing, etc. This information does have the opportunity to become commercialized if needed. Before taking this step patients must be comfortable with the situation and clear on its use. Your health information is private so signing a consent form to publicize your data can be a difficult decision. Being aware that privacy issues could be an option is also something that could happen. As a healthcare professional it is very important to make sure that the patient is well informed of what will take place once they sign the consent. Communication is valuable with patient permission and requests.


As you can see aggregated data is an important part of building and maintaining a strong healthcare industry. We need accurate evidence to create new techniques that make our healthcare a stronger and more productive system. As our world becomes more technically inclined we will improve the benefits of aggregated data (public health, research, education, cost) and decrease the issues that we face using aggregated data (privacy/security, patient permission). Aggregated data has a lot of potential for the growth and well-being of our healthcare industry.


References

{1} Augustinus EM, Hollander D, Melse JM. An aggregate public health indicator to represent the impact of multiple environmental exposures. Epidemiology [serial on the Internet]. 1999 [cited 2013 Mar 8].;10(5) Available from: http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/methods/en/hollander.pdf

{2} Wagner AD, Grothe W, Haerting J. Chemotherapy in advanced gastric cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis based on aggregate data. Journal of Clinical Oncology [serial on the Internet]. 2006 [cited 2013 Mar 8].;24(18) Available from: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/24/18/2903.short

{3} Murphy SN, Chueh HC. A security architecture for query tools used to access large biomedical databases. AMIA [serial on the Internet]. 2002 [cited 2013 Mar 8]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2244204/

Submitted by: Sabrina Gaspar