Among many other things, Ryan and I discuss healthcare’s journey towards digitalization and the ramifications COVID-19 has had in many of these areas. We also talk about Ryan’s shift from academia to consulting and the lessons learned along the way. Further, we explore key topics from Ryan’s recent talk with Life Sciences Ontario, such as how COVID-19 is setting the stage for a future-proofed data ecosystem and the impact this will have on science, innovation, and clinical research.
Here is a preview of our chat:
Q: In a recent talk for Life Sciences Ontario and in a recent report from Shift Health, you stated that this is the “end of the beginning of health digitalization,” with COVID-19 being the accelerant for future-proofing the data ecosystem that we are in. Can you expand on this?
A: There are three important observations that I would make in terms of what COVID-19 is showing us about health data and digitalization. The first is that COVID-19 has made it impossible for us to continue ignoring the limitations of our health data. We have seen many instances of our inability to respond efficiently or effectively because the data sets we have may be low quality, they’re not interoperable, they’re not interpretable, and therefore not actionable. There are many examples of that, and I think people recognize that we need to do much, much better.
The second important thing that COVID-19 has unleashed is, as you mentioned, that it has been an accelerant. We’re seeing a lot of very progressive data and digital health implementation in the context of COVID-19. It’s happening urgently, but it has long-term implications. In Ontario, for example, the Ministry of Health essentially invented PANTHR, which is an integrated data health platform to help support evidence-based decision-making in the context of COVID-19 but has larger implications for other for future pandemics, health emergencies, and beyond. But we also know that those jurisdictions that already had strong data infrastructure were able to respond to the pandemic very, very effectively. South Korea is a very good example. We’re seeing those progressive policies being adapted and used, and we’re learning from them.
The third important things that COVID-19 has done in terms of data is that it has shown how important collaboration and partnership is. It is critical to share data across jurisdictions, across institutions, across boundaries in order to make better decisions. But that partnership also extends to the public. The extent to which the public has been engaged in sharing individual personal data in order to support our response and support public health officials’ ability to track infection and see clusters of incidents, I don’t think public health officials expected that degree of public engagement and public partnership. And that I think is, in many ways, giving me the greatest hope that this is a turning point for health digitalization, because if the public is not onboard, we’re not going to achieve anything.
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Ryan Wiley, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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