Navigating the patient-generated health data deluge

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Due to the efforts of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH, Act, clinicians are more active users of electronic health records (EHRs), which is encouraging the collection of more clinical data than ever before. This has gifted our industry with massive amounts of health data available to aggregate for assimilation into clinical practice with the hope of having a valuable impact on patient care. However, as we're navigating the current sea of data, there's an even larger tsunami in our midst in the form of patient-generated health data (PGHD), defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as health-related data created, recorded, or gathered by or from patients (or family members or other caregivers) to help address a health concern. With the proliferation of affordable mobile health (mHealth) technologies and devices, such as smartphone apps, wearables, and sensors, PGHD is more easily collected.
As clinicians and patients, we now have a tremendous amount of health data at our fingertips that's expected to be used. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind.1 It's estimated that there are over 165,000 health-related smartphone apps available for public use. The majority (78%) of healthcare consumers wear or are willing to wear technology to collect data.2 Although the amount of data may seem overwhelming at times, there are many advantages to using PGHD and various implications for nursing practice.
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