The Necessity of Data for Successful Drug Treatment

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Click to learn more about author Michael D. Shaw.

If there is an essential element to successful drug treatment, it is data.

That is, treatment centers need to make better use of data – they need to gather data, period – so they have information to interpret and analyze. That material influences the care a patient receives, according to that person’s physical needs and psychological requirements.

Creating this brand of customized treatment involves translating a wealth of Big Data about addiction, courtesy of a variety of institutions, from hospitals and medical schools to colleges and universities, from government agencies and independent researchers to scientists and academicians.

We need that data to better understand the size of this challenge and the scope of this threat. We need it to minimize risk, so we can become conversant if not fluent in the language of Big Data.

And it is a language.

It is a language with a history, too, where so many experiments and discoveries have a lot of data to substantiate the claims of doctors, pharmacologists and their respective assistants.

Think of that language, with its studies and statistics, with its graphs and charts, with its surveys and samples, with its reviews and recommendation –– think of this form of a communication as a communiqué to improve treatment.

Deciphering these messages may take time, but that time is an investment in saving lives and enhancing quality of life for individuals worldwide.

Remember, too, that the absence of data can have lethal consequences: It can mislead caregivers, if they do not have the facts involving, say, drug interactions, side effects from one or a group of medications, as well as contraindications regarding a patient’s preexisting condition(s).

So, yes, the ability to read data is at the center of how a drug treatment center must operate.

That ability is an acquired skill, which staff can can learn – and professionals can teach – to ensure there is an acceptable level of care. The results, by way of the patterns or codes analysts can uncover, will bring us closer to reforming treatment for millions of men and women worldwide. That scenario alone should be a catalyst for positive change.

We need data to be an integral part of any drug treatment center’s protocol.

We need to educate prospective patients about the importance of this issue, lest they fall victim to erroneous claims and possibly deadly procedures.

Again, this subject makes the value of Big Data indispensable and indisputable: It reveals how analysis can uncover facts that others may not choose to access or some scientists may not even know exist.

Drug treatment centers should be at the forefront of this topic, since so much of health care – from epidemiology to endocrinology, from studies about addiction in general to reports about alcoholism in particular – rises or falls on the use of data.

The sooner we embrace and apply data, the better off patients will be.

Now is the time to emphasize the urgency of this matter, for the good of current and prospective patients, in addition to the integrity of those professionals who treat these men and women.

Now is the time to make data a priority.


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