HIT Think

Why cloud-based data collaboration tech could defend against superbug outbreaks

Clinical data is key to securing better patient outcomes, both on an individual level by identifying specific ailments in patients, and on a broader scale helping the medical community identify commonalities and patterns with different diseases.

The automated, broader collection of data has grown exponentially over the last decade, yet data sharing has lagged. In a study from the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, only 63 percent of hospitals routinely exchange patient data with the hospital with which they share the highest volume of patients.

Increasing the amount of data that we’re able to collect is helpful for providing a faster, more accurate diagnosis for patients, but in many cases the data is not used to its full potential nor is it being analyzed and reviewed as thoroughly as it could be.

To more proactively address patient care and new epidemics such as antimicrobial resistance, hospitals and healthcare facilities need intelligent, collaborative cloud-based data sharing platforms.

The healthcare industry is constantly changing as new pharmaceuticals, treatments and therapies are released to market and, with these continuous changes, evolving threats have emerged such as antimicrobial resistance. A United Nations report on drug resistance found that over 700,000 individuals die from antibiotic resistant infections each year, and that number could rise to 10 million each year by 2050, unless healthcare facilities and clinicians become more proactive about the issue of antibiotic misuse.

Evolving strains of bacteria found in ailments commonly treated with a course of antibiotics, like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and fungal infections such as the deadly C. Auris, are becoming resistant to the most common antibiotics that the pharmaceutical industry has made available. New data on these strains is emerging daily, but not all healthcare facilities will be able to collect or have access to the large swaths of data that they need on a real-time basis to make the most up-to-date decisions for a patient’s treatment.

This is only furthering antibiotic resistance and straining clinicians who must keep pace with the advancements of diseases and the modern medicine capable of addressing them. As a result, new cloud-based data collaboration solutions are revealing their potential in combating superbugs.

Cloud-based software solutions are a vital part of a larger, multi-component solution to address antibiotic resistance and superbugs, offering a single, unified data platform. These solutions have been designed to establish a database of infectious and antibiotic-resistant pathogens which can be gathered through rapid diagnostic tests. These databases can be used to analyze genotype and phenotype data from thousands of clinical isolates, which are collected from hospitals worldwide on an ongoing basis.

Database systems offer better patient outcomes by pulling data from an individual patient and comparing it to previous records as well as against consolidated data from the larger population. For the individual patient, health history data can be accessed far more efficiently through faster access to diagnostic information, and for clinicians looking to gain information on how to treat a particular infection strain, they can make decisions based on outcomes from other similar cases. When rolled out across multiple healthcare systems, this database makes it possible to eliminate the healthcare silo and share data that healthcare providers worldwide can use to more accurately treat patients.

In addition to eliminating the healthcare silo, cloud-based data collaboration platforms provide valuable insights on how individual infections turn into transmission events. With this information on hand, hospitals and healthcare facilities have the tools and the potential to improve infection control protocols and guard their facilities against future outbreaks.

Specifically, in densely populated regions where infections spread rapidly and are often much more difficult to diagnose and treat, these tools are a crucial component of the healthcare industry’s efforts to quell antibiotic misuse and understand new strains of bacteria before prescribing antibiotics. Being able to quickly identify, track and predict where and when antibiotic-resistant infections will occur, using advanced algorithms, could help the healthcare industry become more proactive than reactive with antibiotic resistance.

The future of infection prevention, specifically with antibiotic-resistant superbugs, requires the use of cloud-based data collaboration technologies. Combining data to better treat infectious disease patients and implement infectious disease surveillance programs gives us a new line of defense against antibiotic misuse and, by default, antibiotic resistance. These solutions are showing tremendous potential in preventing outbreaks, driving more responsible antibiotic use and improving patient outcomes.

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