Integrating Health Data

Physicians are preparing to integrate health data – and the technologies that harness it – into the clinical setting, writes Lloyd B. Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, in the 2020 Stanford Medicine Health Trends Report, “The Rise of the Data-Driven Physician.”

In fact, doctors and medical students are pursuing supplemental education in such things as advanced statistics, coding and population health, and they are open to using tools such as health apps and wearables as part of routine care, he adds.

In addition to conducting a secondary review of news articles, white papers and peer-review research for the 2020 Health Trends Report, Stanford Medicine worked with Brunswick Insight to conduct a survey of 523 U.S. physicians and 210 medical students and residents.

Algorithms and AI
Approval of medical algorithms by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has seen rapid growth over the past several years, according to the researchers. The Medical Futurist Institute reported in June 2019 that the FDA had approved a total of 46 algorithms since 2014. Many of those algorithms are imaging-related, but some are being explored as tools to improve clinical workflows.

“There are still many outstanding questions about the technology, including what role AI should have in the patient-doctor relationship, ethical considerations, and, more practically, how it can best alleviate clinical practice burdens,” according to the Stanford researchers. “Having a basic fluency in AI will be important for clinicians to engage in these critical discussions going forward.”

Advanced education
Nearly three-quarters of all medical students and nearly half of physicians are planning to pursue additional education in data science, according to the Stanford report.

Among medical students planning to take additional classes:

  • 44% said they will pursue advanced statistics and data science.
  • 36% population health management.
  • 30% genetic counseling.
  • 25% clinical genomics.
  • 23% coding and programming.
  • 13% artificial intelligence.

Among physicians planning to take additional classes:

  • 38% said they will pursue genetic counseling.
  • 34% artificial intelligence.
  • 31% population health management.
  • 27% clinical genomics.
  • 23% advanced statistics and data science.
  • 22% coding and programming.

Tomorrow’s physician will most likely take wearables seriously. Already, 47% of medical students, 50% of residents and 44% of physicians reported using a wearable health monitoring device, according to the Stanford researchers. Furthermore, when asked if they use the results of data from their own wearable device to help inform their personal healthcare decisions, 67% of students, 56% of residents and 71% of physicians said “yes.”

Physicians and medical students also attribute clinical value to this data when it comes to their patients as well. Eighty percent of physicians and 78% of students and residents said that self-reported data from a health app is “very” or “somewhat” valuable in terms of clinical value, and 83% of physicians and 79% of students and residents answered the same about data from a wearable device.

“The Rise of the Data-Driven Physician is an unprecedented opportunity to transform medicine and improve patient outcomes,” conclude the researchers in the Stanford report. “And we are encouraged to see current and future physicians taking steps to actively prepare for this new era of data and digital health.”

Editor’s note: Stanford Medicine 2020 Health Trends Report, “The Rise of the Data-Driven Physician” can be found at

Which of the following innovations do you think have the most potential to transform the healthcare sector in the next five years?

  Students and residents Physicians
Personalized medicine 64% 61%
Telemedicine 58% 52%
Artificial intelligence 40% 42%
Wearable consumer health monitoring devices 41% 40%
Genetic screening for health risks 33% 43%
Electronic health records 32% 23%
Robotic surgery 16% 19%
Virtual reality 15% 12%

Source: The Rise of the Data-Driven Physician, Stanford Medicine 2020 Health Trends Report

Next month: National Public Health Week

Helping your provider customers deliver high-quality medical care is your daily concern. But today, the line between medicine and public health is disappearing, as providers examine the impact of things like poverty, malnutrition and inadequate housing on people’s health.

During National Public Health Week – April 6-12 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting readers will have a chance to talk about some of these big-picture issues with customers. The American Public Health Association has posted these daily themes for NPHW 2020:

  • Monday, April 6: Mental health (Advocate for and promote emotional well-being.)
  • Tuesday, April 7: Maternal and child health. (Ensure the health of mothers and babies throughout the lifespan.)
  • Wednesday, April 8: Violence prevention. (Reduce personal and community violence to improve health.)
  • Thursday, April 9: Environmental health. (Help protect and maintain a healthy planet.)
  • Friday, April 10: Education. (Advocate for quality education and tools.)
  • Saturday, April 11: Healthy housing. (Ensure access to affordable and safe housing.)
  • Sunday, April 12: Economics. (Advocate for economic empowerment as the key to a healthy life.)

For more information on National Public Health Week, go to

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