How Big Data is Transforming Healthcare

Healthcare providers are increasingly seeing the benefit of big data is Improving Patient Care

Big Data has been a major boon to businesses, and the insights it derives are having an impact at companies both large and small. However, Big Data is not a business concept, but a computational one, and one that offers benefits far beyond the corporate world. Healthcare in particular stands to benefit significantly, in part thanks to the sheer volume of the droves of data sets it creates. However, the real value for healthcare providers is in being able to bring that data together.

“Unstructured data today is about 80% of healthcare data –  and growing at explosive rates,” states Geoff Bakeman, VP Healthcare at global healthcare IT specialists Comport Healthcare Solutions.

Turning data into information informs decisions, lowers costs, improves patient care and increases administrative efficiency.

Understanding Disease

The Human Genome Project, a 13-year project to map the entire human genome, was billed as being able to transform medicine. However, it failed to live up to the revolutionary hype slightly. Yet, over the years, the data gleaned from the project has produced invaluable insights into diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to various cancers, and its data is still being mined today. Big Data has the potential to realize the Human Genome Project’s dream by helping researchers discover the nature of some of the world’s most dangerous diseases. Along the way, scientists can use this data to develop and test treatments.

Cost-Effective Hospital Care

Hospitals and other care centers have limited budgets, and many operate as for-profit companies. Health and social care is the forth biggest industry in the US. Hospital costs are expensive, and any reductions can significantly cut the amount spent on healthcare. Big Data is a valuable tool for all types of businesses, but it can be especially useful for hospitals. Being able to arrive at more accurate diagnoses can get patients the treatment they need promptly. Precise ERP tools can provide the statistics that can help hospitals determine the right staffing levels and avoid overpaying for labor.

Empowering Patients

How well out patients look after themselves at home can be critical to some diagnosis, and Big Data can better inform them about self-care as well as preventing and managing diseases. Big Data projects can show which patients are a high risk for certain diseases, empowering them to make better decisions for their health. It can also play a major role in patient compliance, an area where individuals often fall short. Finding out the most effective ways to educate and encourage patients can reap tremendous benefits in preventative medicine.

Fraud Mitigation

Countless court cases show that people in the medical field are not immune to the temptation of fraud and abuse, and providers can often abuse the system for years before being noticed, if their fraud is ever detected at all. Big Data can raise red flags early, enabling investigations early on. Furthermore, effective fraud detection can discourage people in the medical field from engaging in fraud to begin with, leading to lower overall medical costs.

Avoiding Unnecessary Tests and Procedures

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s sometimes best to avoid certain tests and procedures. False positives on screenings, for example, can lead to unnecessary and even dangerous procedures, leading to poorer outcomes. Big Data can provide even more clear evidence of what tests and procedures should be avoided in certain patients, leading to better patient care and lowering insurance claims.

Medicine is inherently complex. While there’s been tremendous progress made over the years, the amount of data that’s been collected through research means individual doctors and even large organizations struggle to make sense of it all. Big Data provides analytical tools never before available, and, when used appropriately, it can serve as a cornerstone to advance the medical field beyond recognition.