Bringing real-time data monitoring to healthcare: the challenges and benefits ahead of us

Monitoring and analyzing health data in real-time is much needed to improve healthcare in developing countries and offers many public health benefits. But what challenges ahead should we also take into consideration? Let’s take a closer look at both the benefits and the challenges of real-time health data monitoring: 

Data monitoring improves pharmacy care

For many people in developing countries, pharmacies are the first point of access to modern medical advice and treatment. Keeping track of the patient data coming in and out of those pharmacies is very difficult to do without the help of electronic data information systems. And actually, the lack of real-time data monitoring harms patients the most. For example, a patient may not know if the drug they purchased was recently recalled, or if it comes from a safe source. So, collecting health data is absolutely necessary to advance the performance and safety of pharmacies. With our mobile app, SnapRx, pharmacists receive real time updates on drug recalls and information for better tracking their drug sources. 
Protecting patient  privacy

Data protection and patient privacy are a priority

All the public health improvements that come with real-time data monitoring in healthcare, should be enjoyed while maintaining strict privacy safeguards that protect patient-doctor confidentiality. For instance, when pharmacists use mClinica’s SnapRx app to take photos of their patients’ prescriptions, all names and personally identifying information are blurred out. Thus, prescription data can be collected and analyzed in actual time while still protecting the patient’s privacy. 

Data informs public health policies

When the betterment of all people is at the heart of why we collect data, then we all get the most public health benefits. Indeed, SnapRx will generate a real time data set of roughly 23 million prescriptions per month across the Philippines.  This data is benefitting millions of people by announcing medicine recalls, revealing trends in medicine usage, and preventing disease outbreaks. Health data surveillance is also extremely important for understanding the true burden of disease in developing countries, and for good policy-making. For instance, governments and health agencies can use the data provided to them by a platform like SnapRx to make informed policy decisions that help public health progress. 

Access to open data prevents misuse

The biggest challenge we face with real-time health data monitoring is to ensure that the data will not be misused. Misusing data can lead to discrimination and exploitation, especially of vulnerable populations. For example, health insurance companies should not be using people’s health data to raise premiums and to insure some people but not others. Additionally, the benefits generated by the data must be evenly shared amongst all people. Equal access to data-driven information is absolutely essential for reducing social inequality. 

Ultimately, real-time data monitoring in healthcare provides huge benefits and can bring together useful data for the public good. However, the challenge ahead of us is to ensure that privacy is protected and that data is not being misused. Indeed, mClinica’s SnapRx is advancing pharmacy care while protecting patient privacy, and continues to gather public health datasets that can improve health outcomes for everyone. In the end, it must not be forgotten that data is a powerful tool that should only be used for social progress.