In a previous article, we introduced Big Data, defined what is, its market presence, and its role in creating social good. Continuing along the same lines, we will talk about another field in which Big Data is playing a big role: The Healthcare industry.
There is a lot of chatter around implementation and effects of Big Data in the Healthcare industry. It is, therefore, really important to understand the real importance of Big Data in Healthcare today and in the future. The Healthcare industry is currently struggling with storing all the data precisely and efficiently; centralizing it; and making the best of the tools that can give them accurate analytics. On the other hand, though, Big Data is already helping with predictive and prescriptive analytics, and personalized medicine, and in the future it will provide a lot of other applications like clinical risk intervention, automated health checkup, and so on.
The Role of Big Data in Healthcare’s Triple Aim
The policies and practices of Healthcare differ tremendously across the world, but Healthcare’s triple aim is common.
· The patients experience should be improved, including satisfaction and quality.
· The overall population health should be improved.
· Per-capita cost of healthcare should be reduced.
Gathering huge amounts of data for clinical staff used to be time consuming and costly. Current technologies make it easier to gather this data and new technologies make it easy to convert huge amount of data into relevant and critical insights that are used to provide better care.
With the help of analytics, negative reactions can be predicted and stopped before they become a problem. With the highly available data, analytics can answer questions like which method is more effective to solve a certain problem, which geographical area lacks the technology needed to aid in better care, keep a better track of inventory, and so on. Patients will be empowered and involved more in their treatment through online health applications. All the information gathered from different sources help Healthcare providers so that they achieve the triple aim.
Electronic Health Record (EHR)
The most widespread and “almost here” kind of application of Big Data in Healthcare is EHR. Each and every patient will have their own digital record which includes medical history, drug allergies, heart rate and normal body functions, previous and current medication, and so on. This is already happening with the normal body functions being recorded by smartphones and health tracking devices. The records can then be made available for Healthcare providers from both private and public sectors.
The big idea is to create a centralized EHR system that can be accessed by any doctor, and edit the same records in real-time to avoid duplicate and conflicting reports.
Tele-medicine is all about delivering medical services from a distance. Either through smartphones, texts, video conferences, or any other technology relevant. Medical centers use tele-medicine to save costs and/or take on board patients that have a higher need of admittance.
Tele-medicine helps reduce admittance of patients for primary care, and re-admittance of patients by providing necessary services through tele-medicine. It allows them to predict the accurate medical requirements and prevent the deterioration of the patient’s health condition. Tele-medicine is used for primary consultations, initial diagnosis and is also used by health professionals for medical education.
Tele-medicine also improves the availability of Healthcare as patients’ state can be monitored and consulted anywhere and anytime. This takes the access to good Healthcare to a global level.
Some more specific applications include “Tele-surgery”, where doctors perform surgeries with real-time high speed data delivery, using robots, anywhere around the globe.
With systems like Tele-medicine, EHR, and so on, the future lies in predictive and prescriptive analytics. There will be capabilities to capture real-time data, constantly being analyzed, to predict the likelihood of a medical incidence happening, and prescriptive steps will be provided to avoid that downfall.
This almost makes it like having a doctor around you 24x7, who will alert you of anything medical that needs to be taken care. The same from the medical center’s point of you, gives them time to prepare for a situation before anything happens. And in the end, all of the data collected will be used to further medical reach to new heights.
Future of Big Data in Healthcare
The collection of data from the primary source has really picked up over the past few years. Mobile applications, personal fitness trackers, health monitors, social media, various sensors, and electronic medical records are vast sources of data. This will just keep going up over time, providing a 360-degree view of the patient. We can see new platforms and tools coming-up every day to help Healthcare in never previously imagined ways.
As these tools and adoption is evolving, they make it easy to understand the current state and possibly the future state of Healthcare. With this rapid feedback, there is a potential to completely change the experiences of our Healthcare. Marketing, businesses, and political campaigns are using the analytical tools to look at this massive amount of information in new and valuable ways. Healthcare has traditionally lagged behind these other sectors due to concerns around patient confidentiality, but the change can be seen in the near future.
Nikunj is the CEO of DataOne Innovation Labs. His company provides architectural solutions for big data problems faced by enterprises. His main areas of focus are real-time data processing, machine learning, NLP, cloud computing and high availability architecture design. Nikunj holds a master’s degree in Information Technology from the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology.