image: freedigitalphotos.net/praisaeng

image: freedigitalphotos.net/praisaeng

Big data — those large data sets that can be analyzed in a variety of ways — is useful to many different industries, especially that of healthcare. Learning more about big data in healthcare is how it can be incorporated into the care of individuals and for entire groups of a population. This can then give you a better understanding of what to expect in each circumstance in the near future. With facilities and providers utilizing Electronic Medical Records (EMR) more than ever before, data is easily collected, and as privacy and security challenges are overcome, that data can be used in a variety of ways in the healthcare setting. The ability to compare an existing patient and his complaints with an entire group of similar patients can give both providers and facilities valuable insight into the best ways to care for that patient.

Incorporating big data in healthcare provides benefits for both facilities and patients. Facilities and providers benefit by getting a much better understanding of the challenges their communities face as a whole; they can also access valuable data regarding treatment and outcomes and use it to make the best care plans for the individuals under their care.

5 Ways Patients and Providers can Benefit from Big Data in Healthcare

image: freedigitalphotos.net/stuartmiles

freedigitalphotos. net/stuartmiles

Improved preventative care:

Your Jawbone, Fitbit or even your home blood pressure or blood glucose monitor can provide important insights for you – and your doctor. The ability to upload your personal stats, strip them of personal information and then compare them to a comprehensive database allows your doctor to provide the best possible preventative care. The units you use on a regular basis to check your blood pressure or sugar or the amount of activity you have daily may eventually be able to deliver that information directly to your doctor, and provide valuable insight into your current and future health.

While personal fitness devices and monitors already play a key role in your health and wellness plan, the information is currently only accessible to you. Innovations in big data could provide ways to for your information to be stripped of personal details and then compared to other users and give your medical team a better idea of the whole picture of your health.

freedigitalphotos. net/digitalalert

freedigitalphotos. net/digitalalert

Identifying populations at risk:

Using big data in healthcare to spotlight specific groups who are either underserved or at risk of significant health problems can allow for better awareness and care for these groups. While anecdotal evidence and specific research studies may reveal where awareness and prevention efforts are falling short, the ability to sift through big data and spot healthcare and risk trends will improve care options and response times in the future.

This specifically falls into the realm of Population Health Management, however, being able to help out each group that you are serving requires the knowledge gained from insights produced from big data in healthcare. Thus, individuals and larger groups benefit greatly from information derived with big data.

flickr.com/ uwhealth

flickr.com/ uwhealth

Continuum of Care:

As more healthcare institutions consider shifting to a continuum of care model, one that shifts the focus from the medical facility or provider to the actual patient, big data in healthcare will be essential to the integration of records, billing and facility interaction. Continuum of care follows a patient through various stages of an illness or period of time and is particularly helpful in treating patients who are very young, very old or who have chronic illnesses. Data integration is a must, but so is collecting and examining that data to get a better understanding of the best treatment options for any individual patient, and walking them through their health history.

freedigitalphoto. net/jackthumm

freedigitalphoto. net/jackthumm

Preventing the spread of disease:

The ability to track evolving disease by tracing the movements of impacted individuals can be greatly enhanced by big data in healthcare. This is particularly useful in fighting epidemics in underserved countries; in Africa, for example, the path of Ebola can be tracked by following the path of the actual groups of people. This data allows world health organizations to promptly respond and to place treatment facilities in locations that will actually be beneficial to infected citizens.

freedigitalphotos. net/cooldesign

freedigitalphotos. net/cooldesign

Improved efficiency and lower costs:

Using big data in healthcare to spotlight the best treatment plans for a specific illness can improve outcomes – and lower provider costs as well. Choosing the right treatment the first time – and avoiding duplicating costly tests and unneeded medications, providers can work in a more cost effective and efficient way. Finding both the wasted time and efforts isn’t always easy due to the fact that doctors in different offices or facilities may not realize what the other has conducted. By opening up the patient’s medical history and ongoing treatments, real-time data-driven decisions can be made and put less discomfort on the patient.

Strength Has Yet to be Defined

Big data in healthcare is far from reaching its full potential by any sense of the imagination. However, lacking the insights that big data can provide (internally as well as externally) to a healthcare organization cannot be overlooked or understated. It is quite remarkable that something that isn’t fully understood has and will continue to provide improvements to a single patient and to a whole community or population.