Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Big Data For Better Healthcare Delivery

How often do you hear Big Data, Mobility, Security and Cloud Computing are rapidly transforming the Healthcare Industry? Well, the answer to this is - often enough to realize that they are important technologies. These omnipresent technologies are opening doors to new possibilities for hospitals, researchers, doctors and patients. Big data is one such technology which has been positioned to be the next big thing. While it has proved to be of value in many ways, one feels the real value of Big Data is yet to be harnessed.

While talking about big data, especially in the healthcare scenario it's important to consider the human side of it. The source and the recipient of benefits for the big data are people. The volume of data generated and gathered is immense and with internet of things it's only going to increase further. This means that in the near future there would be enough data present for healthcare providers to understand their patients and the contexts of their illnesses in more detail.

In an Industry exploding with information and data, how one can go about exploiting big data to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve patient care? Here are a few elements essential for healthcare to truly capture the value of big data.

Too many sources, #Addfilters: The data collecting community is quite diverse and integration, extraction and then filtering data for the right information is quite challenging. Healthcare providers, payers, employers, disease-management companies, wellness facilities and programs and patients themselves all collect data. Leveraging these diverse datasets, securely linking them and then taking the relevant information from them has the potential to improve the industry.

Good Data, Bad Data: An extension of the relevant information is the quality of data that one gets. The accuracy of the source is important. The more health information being generated by a growing contingency of apps, devices, electronic health records, mHealth sensors and wearables, the broader and stronger the desire for that data becomes. At the same time it is important to understand that the data being collected is as good as the source from where it is harnessed.

Value of good data is in the insights we get: data for the sake of it is not relevant. A good set of data is not useful without the right analysis, and analysis without the appropriate insights is not helpful. An ability to make better predictions and help target interventions to the right patients is one of the ways data is used. These insights help optimize treatments, early detections and identify key areas that will not only help improve the quality of care but also increase efficiency.

There is no doubt that big data has the power and promise to change the Healthcare Industry. Applying the understanding of big data to not only study the larger trends but also to study individual needs is important. With the growing sophistication of technology and the ability to make it easier for people to use it, the real questions which need answering are: Who needs care? How quickly can it be delivered? What are the most cost effective options? The answer to these questions might very well be somewhere in the realms of Big Data.

By Deenanath Sharma

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