Data Ecosystems in Healthcare

Data as a valuable resource in the treatment process

Sensors, electronic patient files, and intelligent sensor networks play a very important role in healthcare. One trend in the healthcare sector is the spread and strengthening of cyber-physical systems (CPS). They combine and integrate sensor systems, data capture techniques, data processing methods, and real processes. Simultaneously, the mobile health trend, meaning the use of health-specific apps for documenting health-related data, is leading to the continuously increasing availability of citizen and patient data. Failing to make these data usable would prevent innovations to facilitate the treatment of various illnesses (P4 medicine) and to unburden service providers in the process, for example through documentation support.

Integrating and analyzing these data, harbors tremendous potential for creating better medications, better therapies, and better healthcare services, which can have a direct impact on our personal health. All these positive characteristics notwithstanding however, people still have to come first. It is essential to keep individual interests and the benefit for society in mind, and to protect the personal interests of the individual. The resulting Data Ecosystem – consisting of patients, medical device suppliers, healthcare service providers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies – thus has to guarantee the data sovereignty of the patient and must protect the individual interests of the industry. Since healthcare is governed by several regulatory frameworks, combining medical and business interests is far from simple. Only with jointly agreed rules will the ecosystem be viewed as a whole, guaranteeing benefits for all members.