Stanford Medicine: 3 trends shaping the 'democratization' of healthcare

Three technological trends are driving the "democratization" of healthcare, according to a report from Stanford Medicine in California.

Researchers from Stanford Medicine conducted a comprehensive review of existing healthcare research on emerging industry trends to compile the report, which marks the second annual "Stanford Medicine Health Trends Report." Building on last year's findings about the role of big data in healthcare, this year's report emphasizes how data sharing will democratize the industry.

"We have seen this year a rapid increase in the flow of data and information across an increasingly wide range of stakeholders," the report reads. "[Healthcare democratization] promises a world in which patients — armed with data, technology, and access to expertise — can take charge of their own well-being and manage their own health."

Here are the three pillars shaping healthcare democratization between patients and providers, according to the report:

1. Intelligent computing.

"Intelligent algorithms have already shown promise in predicting and identifying public health threats as well as outcomes for at-risk patients in the hospital," according to the report. "As they continue to improve, medical professionals will have a powerful tool to provide patient care that is more precise, immediate and preventive."

2. Data sharing.

"For healthcare to be truly democratized, information must flow freely between and among various participants in the system, including healthcare providers, patients, technology providers, insurers and others," the report reads. Although the industry has a long way to go to reach this goal, recent initiatives involving application programming interfaces and data standards are a step in the right direction.

3. Data security, privacy and safety.

"Some of the greatest perceived benefits to be gained from AI in health data ... imply the need to compare the totality of a patient's medical history against large volumes of other patients' data," the report reads, noting this framework in some ways contrasts the standard understanding of physician-patient confidentiality. "The concept of confidentiality and ensuring patient privacy and safety will need to be reexamined within this kind of environment."

To download the "Stanford Medicine Health Trends Report" report, click here.

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