A disconnect between clinicians and data scientists is growing wider, resulting in a waste of research and healthcare resources, slow uptake of innovation and poorer outcomes that should be achievable.

That’s the result of a new study that explores why increasing digitization of the healthcare industry has not resulted in resolving problems around quality, safety and cost issues.

Leo Anthony Celi, MD
Leo Anthony Celi, MD

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In short, clinicians and data scientists need to come together to support and enhance a learning health system by focusing on the divide between data science and healthcare silos.

“There is a persistent gap between the clinicians required to understand the clinical relevance of the data and the data scientists who are critical to extracting usable information from the increasing amount of health care data that are being generated,” study authors contend.

Leo Anthony Celi, MD, an attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and fellow researchers offer four recommendations:

  • Encourage collaboration between data scientists and clinicians, taking advantage of incorporation of statistics into clinical research during the past 50 years “and the rise of the biostatisticians who can act as a template from which the community can learn.”
  • Push education as medicine has clumsily entered the digital age with electronic health records implemented absent careful and planned consideration of their impact across the entire healthcare ecosystem. “Education and practice systems have not taken this new digitized world into full account, and consequences include students who are unprepared for their digital futures, very unhappy physicians stuck behind computer screens selecting seemingly endless items in reams of dropdown lists, and the unconscious loss of many opportunities for improvements in practice and research.”
  • Rethink academic incentives with education of medical trainees in data analysis methods and education of data scientist trainees in issues of clinical practice and data. Academic journals could encourage joint submissions from clinicians and data scientists.
  • Invest in initiatives to encourage closer collaboration between clinicians and data scientists through funding and incentives.

The full study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is available here.

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