Doctors must become more data literate

Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals. Register to read more

Big data has meant that health care has become increasingly connected globally, and rapid changes in how information is accessed and used has led to significant developments in how diseases are diagnosed and treated.

In a major new report published by Stanford Medicine, experts say these changes will continue, with many envisioning a future of ongoing patient data collection via multiple sources including health records, wearable devices, and genetic testing.

The Health Trends Report cautions, however, that there is a real need for doctors to become more data literate so they can respond accordingly. In particular, it says, improving skills and literacy in computing and analytics, data management and assessment, information processing and software, and technology infrastructure development will be vital if the medical profession is to take advantage of the benefits of big data. This, the report says, will require a change in how providers are taught the skills to deliver positive patient outcomes. 

“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," said Dr Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine.