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How big data can help in healthcare

January 24, 2022

6 minutes read

Big data has become a topic of special interest for healthcare because of the great potential that is hidden in it. It includes various sources for big data such as patients’ medical records, hospital records, telehealth devices, results of medical examinations, etc. This data requires proper analysis and management to gain meaningful impact. Many challenges are associated with each step of working with big data. Customized software for analyzing big data can help to solve those problems.

Developers have to create an appropriate infrastructure capable of systematically generating and analyzing information to provide relevant healthcare solutions. Efficient analysis, management, and interpretation of data can open new opportunities for modern medical care. That is why the healthcare industry improves financial advantages and services. Strong integration of healthcare data can revolutionize medical therapies and personalized medicine.

Why does healthcare need big data?

Big data describes a large amount of healthcare information that collects patients’ records and helps to manage hospital performance. This task is too complex to solve without the adoption of digitalization.

Big data analytics in healthcare offers a lot of essential benefits. It will use specific medical data of a particular individual or a whole population and help cure disease, cut down costs, avoid preventable diseases, nip epidemics in the bud, and better the general life quality. 

Health professionals can collect massive amounts of data and look for the best strategies to solve new challenges of today’s treatment delivery methods caused by the increasing average human lifespan.

What are the most critical challenges for big data in healthcare?

Electronic health records (EHRs)

EHR belongs to the most widespread applications in modern medical care. Each patient has a digital record that includes medical history, demographics, laboratory test results, allergies, etc. Providers can share EHRs, which offers many opportunities such as adding data into records over time, avoiding paperwork, the danger of data replication, and saving time.

EHRs can also remind a patient about the necessity of following doctor’s orders or about new prescriptions or lab tests.

Real-time alerting

Another crucial functionality of big data apps for healthcare is real-time alerting. Wearables can gather patients’ medical data continuously and send this data to the cloud to keep patients away from hospitals and avoid costly in-house treatments. The software can analyze medical data in real-time and give providers pieces of advice for most optimized prescriptions.

For example, if a patient’s blood pressure increases, the system can send a real-time alert to the doctor, who will help in lowering the blood pressure. Besides, this information can be added to the database, which will allow doctors to use this data and modify the medical care delivery strategies. 

Telemedicine

The term telemedicine means the delivery of remote clinical services using technology. Telemedicine has been known for over 40 years, but today it has come into full bloom with wireless devices, wearables, online video conferences, smartphones, etc.

Telemedicine is helpful for remote patient monitoring, primary consultations, and initial diagnosis. Telesurgery allows robots to perform operations using high-speed real-time data delivery. Physicians are not physically present in the same location with an operated patient.

Clinicians use telemedicine for medical education for health professionals or provide personalized treatment plans and prevent readmission or hospitalization. Telemedicine allows providers to prevent deterioration of patients’ conditions and predict acute medical events in advance.

Telemedicine helps keep patients away from hospitals, reduce costs, and improve the quality of delivered service. Doctors save time on avoiding unnecessary consultations and paperwork. Patients avoid waiting in lines. Telemedicine can significantly enhance the availability of care as patients’ condition can be monitored and consulted anywhere and anytime.

Enhancement of the patient’s engagement 

Using big data for telemedicine enhances the patient’s engagement as well. Patients can be directly involved not only in the monitoring of their health but in changing their lifestyle to be more healthy.

The collected medical information can be used to identify potential health risks. For example, an elevated heart rate and chronic insomnia can signal a chance for future heart disease. 

Physicians can monitor collected data and help patients suffering from asthma, blood pressure, or other chronic diseases. Patients can benefit from it, become a bit more independent, and reduce unnecessary visits to the doctor.

Improved risks management  

Big data is essential to tackle the hospitalization risk and prevent deterioration for specific patients with chronic diseases. Analyzing different insights such as symptoms, medication type, the frequency of medical visits, and many others, healthcare facilities can provide better preventative care and reduce admissions to the hospital. It helps to cut costs, but it will also ensure the availability of resources for patients who need it more. It is how big data in healthcare can save people’s lives and improve the quality of medical care.

Preventing human errors

Patient safety is crucial for the healthcare delivery system. Despite being manned and run by qualified personnel dedicated to patient safety, the healthcare sector is not immune to error. Even the most competent healthcare professionals can make mistakes and prescribe the wrong treatment or medicine, which can have grave consequences, harm the patient even if it may lead to death.

The minimization of human errors is the most significant issue for modern medical care. Latent medical errors indicate organizational inadequacies and active medical errors that need to be addressed at the individual level. All those errors can be more easily avoided with the help of big data. Information can be utilized to dissect client information and the endorsed prescription. It helps doctors who deal with many patients in a day to avoid mistakes.

Improved staffing in healthcare facilities 

A most common problem for each healthcare manager is to decide how many people to put on staff at any given period. If too many workers are put on, it causes the risk of unnecessary labor costs added up. If too few workers are available, the hospitals won’t be able to handle the patients, which can even lead to death. Big data collected from different patients can be organized and help solve this problem by analyzing the information and predicting the amount of needed staff.

Customized healthcare apps use the data from previous records to determine how many patients will be likely to visit the medical facility in an hour or a day. Using those predictions, hospitals can put on a sufficient number of healthcare professionals to avoid adding up labor costs or lousy patient service. Organized data will also help define the areas that need healthcare service most and increase the medical services in the required areas.

Reduce fraud and enhance security

Healthcare works with sensitive patients’ vulnerable data with a high black market rate. Stolen personal data can be used for several criminal activities. Medical facilities need specific security procedures such as antivirus and firewall safety protocols to prevent data thefts. Customized software can help to detect any suspicious activity in the database and prevent hackers from stealing data.

Summary  

Important key points of big data in healthcare are the following:

  • the population health can be enhanced on a sustainable basis
  • the patient experience, the quality of treatment, and satisfaction levels will improve dramatically
  • operational costs can be reduced significantly

Due to rising medical costs, there’s a huge need for big data in healthcare. According to a McKinsey report.

“healthcare expenses now represent 17.6 percent of GDP — nearly $600 billion more than the expected benchmark for a nation of the United States’s size and wealth”.

It shows that costs are much higher than expected. It is why we need data-driven and intelligent thinking to solve the problem. 

Big data will provide better healthcare by giving early warnings of disease conditions, introducing prediction of epidemics concerning population health, and helping discover novel biomarkers and intelligent therapeutic intervention strategies for an improved quality of life.

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