Real-World Data in Times of Change

The following is a guest article by Melva T. Covington, MPH, MBA, Ph.D. from Ciox.

The eye-opening projected cost of healthcare due to the novel coronavirus in the United States is historic, with totals somewhere between $56B and $556B by the end of 2021, according to a Wakely study by American’s Health Insurance Plans.

Our nation’s hospitals are hemorrhaging dollars. The American Hospital Association suggested that together, hospitals will have lost more than $200B by mid-year 2020, losing on average $51B per month over a four-month time period. There have also been widespread disruptions to routine surgical care, with more than 28 million surgeries postponed or cancelled since the start of the COVID-19 crisis as per the British Journal of Surgery Society.

Moreover, the cost of care has shifted to online services wherever possible. This is noted by the exponential growth in remote monitoring, telehealth services and delivery health products. One national pharmacy chain reported a YoY 600 percent growth in demand for telehealth, virtual visits, and home delivery services during the first quarter of 2020.

The healthcare model has shifted essentially overnight, and what is clear is that nearly all of our systems and institutions must act now to understand the impact of these changing dynamics and address costly challenges in real-time. One critical question: Can digital technologies inform us of what is working, and what isn’t?

Digital health technology such as “Big Data” cloud technology, advanced computer analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and Natural Language Processing (NLP) have increased our ability to make quicker, more precise predictions about disease manifestation, clinical outcomes, and operational costs. But this is not easy.  The interoperability of digital information exchanged has emerged as a major factor within the healthcare ecosystem. These technological considerations converge to transform how we make choices, how we engage, and with whom we engage. From these technologies, we have created new standards in the integrity and quality of data that is produced.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how quickly the operational and clinical needs of our healthcare system can change, and how suddenly a “new normal” can be established. In some regards, our system is flexible enough to quickly provide care where and how it is needed; in others, we must urgently build public-private partnerships to work collaboratively in the development of innovative digital solutions.

The impact of COVID-19 is a black swan event  or “an event that happens so rarely that it is incredibly hard to predict and even harder to prepare for.” However, we must be prepared. The demand for insights from real-world data (RWD) pertaining to this pandemic are needed right now to inform efforts in our healthcare systems to make better, more informed decisions. Our research teams around the nation and world need access to RWD, to support insights for COVID-19 vaccine development and treatment, and this demand will only grow in the next 18 to 36 months.

In short, the COVID-19 experience has laid bare the inefficiencies in U.S. and global healthcare systems. We need innovation. Innovation is about transformation and having the courage to change what isn’t working. Our ability to provide effective solutions depends on the availability of relevant data to drive this change. Our future may yet rest in our ability to unlock RWD-driven insights faster, in pursuit of better care and more effective cures.

About Ciox
Ciox Health, a leading health technology company and proud sponsor of Healthcare IT Today, is improving patient health by transforming clinical data into actionable insights. Combined with an unmatched network offering ubiquitous access to healthcare data, Ciox’s expertise, relationships, technology and scale make a difference for healthcare stakeholders and empower greater health for patients. Through its HealthSource technology platform, which includes solutions for data acquisition, release of information, clinical coding, data abstraction, and analytics, Ciox helps clients securely and consistently solve the last mile challenges in clinical interoperability. Learn more about Ciox’s technology and solutions by visiting or Twitter and LinkedIn.