Big Data for Healthcare

The healthcare industry accumulates massive amounts of data on a continuous basis. It is rapidly streaming into organizations, from electronic medical records and laboratory reports to professional correspondence and health insurance claims. While this structured data in the hands of individual stakeholders can be used for business value, correlating it with data from other sources can benefit the industry as a whole. It can provide key insights to improve patient care and outcomes, reduce health care costs and ultimately broaden the access to health care.

From The Patient To Policy

As with any industry, each stakeholder in health care places different value on data at hand. But only 20% of this data is structured and therefore used for business intelligence. From service providers (doctors, labs, pharmacies, hospitals) and innovators (pharmaceutical companies, medical device distributors) to funders (health insurance), academics (universities, research institutions) and policy makers, the sheer volume of data is amassing at phenomenal rates never before seen.

It is estimated that 90% of the data that we have today has been created in just the past 2 years. Not only can deeper analysis of this data benefit each stakeholder in terms of increasing turnover, reducing operational costs and expanding access to healthcare, it can also benefit the most important entity in the industry – the patient – with better health outcomes. However, deriving value from this data extends beyond traditional business analysis of structured data within each organization’s database.

The Challenge of Big Data

With vast pools of health care data available in the public domain, and semi-structured and unstructured data streaming in from a variety of sources, let alone the transactional data of each entity in the industry, making sense of all this data in an efficient manner has obvious value. The term big data is used to describe the sheer volume of data existing in a variety of forms (structured, semi- and unstructured) which is being generated and collected at different velocities.

It is not only about the data in the doctor’s electronic medical records, the hospital’s billing system, institution’s research and clinical data or the health insurer’s claims information. It is includes all data created, collected and stored from traditional and non-traditional sources such as social media, website logs and call center emails. Much of this data was previously ignored. Some was discarded. Useful relationships could not be derived as the diversity of data could not be correlated for value.

Until now it was a challenge in making sense of this data – correlating the data from one organization’s traditional database with structured data from other stakeholders and then adding semi-structured and unstructured data to the mix. Big data tools overcome this challenge by allowing stakeholders to extract, transform and load data from a variety of sources to analyze it and derive knowledge for business intelligence.

Deriving Value For The Healthcare Industry

By utilizing this expanse of information for deeper insight, the doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical company and health insurer can collaborate to improve patient management while ensuring affordability to the health care consumer as well as profitability and sustainability of each organization. From fraud detection to medical innovation, improved patient care and better clinical outcomes, big data is revolutionizing the way the healthcare industry uses and derives value from the massive volume of data at its disposal. It can also contribute to key insights for researchers and policy makers, all of which collectively benefits the patient, service providers and funders with sustainable solutions.