How Big Data is Growing in Health Care and Why it Matters
It’s frequent that you see studies about how some substance or drug affects your health, or even how performing an action can lead to adverse health benefits. You also see studies about food, activities and exercise and how they contribute to a person’s medical wellness.
However vast these studies are, there is one fact we’re overlooking – there is a vast amount of medical data out there right now, and yet much of it goes unanalysed. What is analysed is often under-analysed, and the really big question is this: why?
The answer is as simple as the question. When medical practices purchase software to house data, the purpose is mostly placed in the sector of record keeping. Clinics, pharmacies and the like store data in order to serve patients on an individual
level via identification verification and medical records. Future analysis isn’t something in the forefront of anyone’s mind, and this can cause problems when it comes to studies and research.
Data curation and analysis is something that all CIOs and medical practice managers need to start thinking about. The time to get a hold of your data has come and gone, and it’s more necessary than ever to start up this process.
A Past Parallel
An example of how this has come into play in the past is how during the late 1990s, telecommunication companies started thinking of future necessity (albeit something the world of medical data hasn’t yet done). Because they knew that with the introduction of the Internet to the common man would come with a higher demand for accessing the Internet quickly and easily, these companies bought hundreds of thousands of high capacity optic cable in order to meet those demands.
While this was a good idea, the fiber optic cables lay dormant for years – and this is where the medical data currently is now. It’s stuck in a stasis, waiting for someone to finally utilize it the way it should be utilized.
The 4 V’s
As it stands, we can talk about medical big data in four words: volume, velocity, variability and value. The first three speak for themselves, and are something of a staple in the world of all big data, but the fourth V is something that’s recently been thought of when it comes to both data and healthcare.
As of right now, all this data is stuck in that stasis we talked about, but by discussing its value, we bring it into action. Sitting there useless, it doesn’t help anyone. Once you give it value, it has purpose.
Better Care, Better Health and Lower Costs
If the above phrase is familiar to you, then you’ve recognised the recent Three Part Aim that’s been recently discussed in healthcare. Put simply, it explains that better healthcare means that more people are healthy. Healthier people means less financial strain on both the governmental system and the common man.
We know that this big data has value, but how we do we extract it? What exactly do we do with this data in order to both make it valuable and also adhere to these Three Part Aims?
– First, we need to understand the risks at an individual and population level – this kind of data-driven understanding will help to shed light on why this data is so crucial.
– Many medical mistakes and oversights exist because patient data isn’t cross-referenced or correctly analysed. When we put systems in place that do this, we avoid harming patients or letting them slip through the cracks.
– The faster the access to medical analytics, the faster a patient can receive care. This creates a more efficient medical practice environment as well.
– By better understanding a patient through a heightened access to their data, as well as the data of others through studies, it becomes easier to engage with said patient.
– When we curate patient data easily, we create better opportunities for studying data and driving science forward. It’s likely that if all the current big data found in medical practices right now was studied on a large scale, we’d solve multiple medical mysteries via the missing puzzle pieces it reveals.
Big data in the world of healthcare isn’t just about technology and analytics. It’s about using information to help people, and creating a healthcare data system that actually corrects the problems that exist within the current system can – and will – do just that.