There’s a hotly contested issue in healthcare services, and that’s the concept of storing medical data on individual patients in a nationwide database. The purpose of such a database would be to allow coordination of care between doctors and hospitals, no matter where the patient seeks treatment. While some hail this as a potentially lifesaving innovation–as well as a way to curtail the so-called “doc-shoppers” who attempt to access prescription drugs from multiple doctors without their knowledge–there are an equally vocal number of opponents who see this type of initiative as a Big Brother approach to medical care. Apart from the “tracking” idea of following citizens’ medical histories, there are also privacy concerns related to the threat of data breaches and hacking events, thereby giving cybercriminals the entire medical histories of the country’s entire population.
SAP, a long-time medical software developer who’s so far focused on billing and record keeping, for the most part, has announced a new piece of technology that allows hospitals to gather data on patients. Unlike previous iterations of the idea, this one isn’t to collect info on the patient as an individual, but rather to gather information that will help doctors treat similar cases over a widespread area. SAP’s software, called Foundation for Health, can also be used for research purposes.
According to the developer, “SAP Foundation for Health serves as a platform for personalized-medicine applications by enabling the processing and real-time analysis of big medical data from various sources, in a single system. The platform provides a common database schema, functional libraries, and algorithms for diverse health-associated applications built on top of it. In addition, the platform provides user interfaces for monitoring and administering various aspects of the platform, such as data integration and the clinical data warehouse, as well as end-user applications that provide standard features used separately or together with applications built on top of the platform.”
“By unlocking patient data and uncovering real insights, not just patients but research organizations, life-science companies and research institutes can use technology to realize the full potential of that information and transform the health-care sector into personalized medicine,” Bernd Leukert, SAP executive board member for technology, said at an event in Frankfurt Tuesday.
The software feeds into a database named HANA, which already reportedly has 10,000 users in place. SAP is one of the world’s largest developers of management software for this type of application.