Healthcare providers are constantly looking for better ways to improve care and many are looking to non-traditional data sources to help usher in the future of healthcare. In a four-part series of blogs, Orion Health's Analytics Line of Business Owner, Jeff Turpin has already explored behavioural, genomic, and socio-economic data and in his concluding blog he discusses the potential healthcare application of psychographic data.

Psychographic data

Compiled from information about an individual’s personality, attitude, their lifestyle, and interests psychographic data is gaining attention for its potential use in creating personalised healthcare.

As patients with the same illness don’t necessarily act in the same way it’s important to understand an individual’s differences or ‘quirks’. Knowing these differences can help clinicians to avoid adverse selection, appeal to a patient’s preferences and motivations for treatment, and strengthen patient engagement. 

The data could also help to tackle the global problem of medicine non-adherence. Currently around 50% of patients with chronic illnesses do not take medication as prescribed, which leads to increased morbidity and death, and significantly impacts clinicians time and healthcare costs.

Non-adherence is a multi-pronged problem that could be addressed, in part, with the use of Psychographic data. For instance, if the data revealed a patient had a low chance of adherence, the clinician could change the care pathway they’re on to a more-tailored high-risk pathway. This would allow clinicians to intervene quickly to make sure the patient received the appropriate care.

Changing care pathways may initially require more resources but in this case, a high-risk pathway would be far more effective long term than a light/low touch pathway where the patient may not be self-administering, self-adhering, or self-reporting. 

While the application of the data could be enormously beneficial to both providers and patients, there is still the matter of collecting so much information from disparate sources. Currently psychographic information is acquired through traditional means such as surveys, personal interviews, and focus groups - as well as modern methods such as analysing an individual’s social media and internet browsing habits. These methods can be inefficient, costly, and interpreted as invasive, all of which have provided a barrier to adoption in healthcare. 

If the healthcare industry and governments want to progress towards precision medicine, as has been indicated, there should be a significant debate focusing on privacy. On paper the benefits of utilising non-traditional data far outweigh any potential issues, however, privacy is still a very big, and very valid, concern for many people. That may seem frustrating for those eager to progress rapidly into the future but it’s important to note that even if there is a proven tool to help someone get healthier, they may not use it. If everyone did, medical non-adherence wouldn’t be an issue.

Click below to read the real-time data white paper.