Big data in healthcare is a term used to describe massive volumes of information created by the adoption of digital technologies that collect patients’ records and help in managing hospital performance, otherwise too large and complex for traditional technologies.
Despite the slow uptake, big data is changing healthcare as we know it. Compared to industries such as the retail and banking sector, the healthcare industry has been slow to take advantage of all of these data points have to offer. A possible reason for this slow uptake could be the preference amongst physicians to use their professional judgement to treat conditions as opposed to other forms of intelligence. We are however seeing escalating costs to healthcare and big data’s ability to improve quality and increase value is evident. The healthcare sector is starting to adopt the untapped potential in big data making it an exciting time for innovation and transformational change.
Why Use Big Data in Healthcare?
With an ageing population, big data solutions are being used to cut down on wasted overheads and increase profits. One method to reduce healthcare costs is to ensure patients don’t need to enter the hospital or see a physician in the first place. Algorithms that can analyse Big Data to predict epidemics, cure diseases and improve quality of life provide physicians with the tools for faster diagnosis and treatment. Spotting warning signs earlier ensures preventative care can begin sooner. When put into use, data analytics can predict readmissions rates and enables more efficient planning and use of resources. With regards to medicines, big data is being viewed as a valuable tool to tailor medicines to the unique genetic makeup of each person, what is considered precision medicine or personalised medicine. The drive now within healthcare is to find out as much as possible about a patient as early as possible to prevent chronic health conditions from developing and deteriorating.
So what does Big data mean in the healthcare sector? It refers to the complex and large sets of electronic health data that cannot be analysed, managed or processed with traditional software. The growth of mHealth and digital solutions in healthcare is providing a valuable, inexpensive and quick method to manage health conditions and medicines. Essentially, medical records are becoming digitalised and quantified.
The availability of mobile health apps has seen a growing trend where consumers using apps to help them live a healthier lifestyle and a more holistic relationship to health and their medicines puts the pressure on the industry to adapt. With the potential to cut costs in an already stretched market and the average time a patient spends with a physician as low as 10 minutes, the potential to reinvigorate the healthcare market is huge and collecting these data points and transforming the healthcare sector is becoming utterly business critical.
Providing new measurement capabilities for physicians, as well as fine tuning clinical and research trials, big data’s application in healthcare seems limitless. Despite the slow uptake in the healthcare industry, it seems as though it is here to stay.