Big data is everywhere. You and I can’t get through a single 24-hour period without generating data that is added to ever-growing databases. Big data is so ubiquitous in the modern era that so much of what we now take for granted would come crashing down without it. However, not every industry has been revolutionized by big data to the same degree.
There are stragglers in the big data herd. One of them is healthcare. The healthcare sector’s biggest foray into big data thus far is electronic record-keeping. But even that effort is not very impressive when compared to the potential that big data affords healthcare delivery. Hospitals, clinics, and private practices all have a long way to go before they are using data to its fullest.
On a more optimistic note, healthcare is moving in the right direction. As they do, it’s becoming clear that big data has the potential to change healthcare delivery in five key ways:
1. Healthcare Personalization
In a great Read It Quik article published in early September (2018), author Megan Ray Nichols discussed five ways big data is changing manufacturing. Her first point was one of mass personalization. Nichols pointed out Nike’s live-design experience that now allows people to build their own footwear from the ground up.
The same thing will eventually be commonplace in healthcare. Using big data, analytics, digital signal processing and more, the healthcare sector will be able to deliver completely personalized medicine for every patient. No more off-the-shelf solutions and one-size-fits-all treatments.
2. Reduced Risks
It is not possible to remove all risk from healthcare delivery. Whenever you are talking about human health, there is always a chance that things will not go as planned. But big data offers the promise of significantly reducing risk by analyzing huge data sets capable of identifying risk factors. The end result will be safer healthcare delivery with fewer complications and better long-term outcomes.
3. More Efficient Delivery
A big obstacle to better healthcare is inefficiency. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is still relying on decades-old methodologies and paradigms to deliver modern medicine. Where inefficiency meets technological advancements, unresolved conflict is the result. Big data holds the key to resolution.
Rock West Solutions, a California company specializing in big data and digital signal processing for medical applications, explains that analyzing big data in a certain way makes previously undiscovered inefficiencies glaringly apparent. That same data can direct healthcare facilities to new, more efficient ways of doing things.
4. Better Industry Monitoring
Another obstacle in modern healthcare is monitoring standardization. Simply put, there aren’t any standards. Healthcare facilities have their own KPIs and doctors have arbitrary standards set by insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid, but none offer an accurate picture of how the industry is doing as a whole. That’s going to change with big data.
Better monitoring at the local level will eventually result in better monitoring regionally and nationally. That is when we’ll really start seeing outcome-based medicine deliver on its promises.
5. Better Cost Controls
Lastly are the cost controls that big data will introduce. We will never stop healthcare costs from increasing, but we do have to get the increases under control if we hope to keep healthcare delivery from bankrupting the nation. Big data will play a role by helping everyone from healthcare administrators to doctors and patients make better use of financial resources.
The time for big data in healthcare has come. Hopefully, the industry will enthusiastically embrace it rather than fighting against it. Big data is the key to transforming healthcare delivery into what it needs to be to support future generations.