Is Big Data Helping Improve Patient Health

"Beyond improving profits and cutting down on wasted overhead, Big Data in healthcare is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life and avoid preventable deaths."

Big data is everywhere and if you are not already embracing it then you are likely to be left behind. Companies are using big data to be able to target potential clients/customers as well as make decisions that will affect their bottom line. Most companies focus on data that will assist them personally and pay less attention to data that will help their customers.


Does the same stand true for healthcare?


It is a given that a healthcare provider uses data to help cut costs. Deciding which services to cover, the patient’s out of pocket costs, the cost of premiums and referrals are all dependent on data.


In fact, both health facilities and insurance companies are in business to make money and using data is essential to their bottom line. However, when it comes to health, there is a personal element involved. This left me wondering if big data is actually helping improve patient health.


According to an article in Forbes, big data is being used by healthcare professionals to help their bottom line, but also to help improve patient health. “Beyond improving profits and cutting down on wasted overhead, Big Data in healthcare is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life and avoid preventable deaths.”


There are a number of ways big data is helping improve patient health. One of the most important is prevention. A recent study published in Big Data talked about how data can identify risk factors associated with disease, which can ultimately help warn communities of coming epidemics. “[Big data] can do so by facilitating the discovery of risk factors for disease at population, subpopulation, and individual levels, and by improving the effectiveness of interventions to help people achieve healthier behaviors in healthier environments.”


Using big data during diagnosis can also help patient health. Healthcare providers can take data and use it to give a more accurate diagnosis. “This ultimately turns raw, clinical information into actionable intelligence,” writes healthcare analytics provider Syntrix Consulting. “It can assist clinicians in identifying high-risk patients, allowing them to intervene at the point-of-care, improving patient outcomes.”

Big data can also help bring drugs to the market quicker and safer. “Clinical trials for new pharmaceuticals are typically long, complex and arduous process,” said Comprehend Chief Product Officer Rani Hublou.


When speaking of analyzing data from clinical trials, Hublou talks about the manual system still used by many. “By the time issues are investigated and escalated to team leaders, conditions have changed, resulting in painfully uncertain decision-making.” Analyzation of big data can help eliminate these delays and streamline clinical trials.


There are issues with using big data that can delay the progress of the industry. Once such is privacy concerns. According to Health Catalyst, HIPPA is one such barrier to using big data. “In healthcare, HIPAA compliance is non-negotiable. Nothing is more important than the privacy and security of patient data. But, frankly, there aren’t many good, integrated ways to manage security in big data.”


Overall, big data is helping those in the healthcare cut cost and increase their bottom lines. Despite potential barriers to collecting and using data, it really is making an impact on patient health, which ultimately benefits everyone.

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Tags: big, data, healtchare, healthcare, privacy


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Comment by Brian Horvath on September 26, 2016 at 8:58am

Thanks, Sione. The collection of data has always been there. However, thanks to a need to use the data, there is now more of a focus on "how" we collect it and how we use it.

Comment by Sione Palu on May 13, 2016 at 1:56pm

Health Informatics researches had existed for more than a decade, so it is not new domain. It has improved patient healthcare over the years such as automated image diagnostic tools to detect tumours for early cancer, it's just today that people think it is new because health services providers have big data but it has been there all along, one just need to check out the number of publications in this domain in journals like "Expert Systems" or LNAI (lecture notes in artificial intelligence) and various IEEE journals. We just hear about it more often these days about big data here for fishing, big data here for sports stars, big data here for restaurants, big data here for beer drinking, big data here & there for politics & Obama, big data here & there for TV show like "You Got Talent" of how to spot the best performer, blah, blah, blah. One just have to look at the number of articles here at Data Science Central with topics on big data on everything.

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