Stanford report: Improving data literacy among physicians will push healthcare into the future

As data becomes a central feature of healthcare, clinicians need more training to manage and analyze new data sources and translate that to efficient and effective patient care, according to a new report.

Improving data literacy was one of the primary recommendations from an inaugural Health Trends Report issued by Stanford Medicine. Experts highlighted the industry’s growing reliance on data to drive precision health that could help physicians predict and manage diseases.

For physicians, that means more training on how to interpret new swaths of data which will soon become a core function of their job, according to the report. They’ll also need to learn how to manage patient-generated data from wearables and direct-to-consumer genetic tests.

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Clinicians weren’t the only target of the report, however. Healthcare organizations will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring the right systems are in place to store and disseminate data while balancing data sharing with patient privacy. Health systems also have a significant opportunity to use data to focus on specific areas of rising healthcare costs.

“As big data becomes more of a resource for patients and their physicians, it simply is not enough to stick to the traditional ways of conducting research, engaging in patient care and educating the next generation of doctors,” Lloyd Minor, M.D., dean of the Stanford School of Medicine said in a release. “Institutions like Stanford have a responsibility to drive advances in data management so that patients can be partners in their own care. By leveraging big data, we can create a vision of health care that is more preventive, predictive, personalized and precise.”

Previous research shows patients and physicians are at odds over the value of health data, with 94% of physicians indicating they are deluged with useless data. Unreliable data from wearables have put physicians in a bind as more patients are asking them to integrate data into their medical care.

RELATED: Future of healthcare grounded in data, but details fuzzy

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, industry experts pointed to the value of data to reshape medical care, but there was also uncertainty about how that transformation would play out.