- The author of this article is Dr. Vibhuti Agarwal, Senior Director- Data Science and Business Intelligence
Geoffery Moore once said, “Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of a freeway.” He emphasized the vulnerability faced by organizations without the proper utilization of big data.
Data isn’t just numbers. It has names and numerics depicting facts and statistics collected together to read the past and the present and predict the future.
When we use data and add it to technology, it gives rise to solutions that tackle significant problems resulting in minimal disadvantages and leading advantages. One such vertical is the healthcare sector that benefits from big data sets. The importance of healthcare data for patient care is the solution that solves the problems in the majority.
Data and Its Uses
Data is quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, stored and transmitted in electrical signals, and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
A large amount of healthcare data, i.e., any data related to a patient’s health or a collective population, is gathered, stored, and analyzed by a series of health information systems utilized by the organizational bodies.
The use of big data in medicine has paved paths for tackling dual solutions at once, serving the local organizational issues – reducing workloads and increasing the profits, and the more significant global humanitarian problems such as forecasting epidemics and combating existing diseases more efficiently.
It has provided a more holistic view of patients, helped personalize treatments, advance the treatment method, improve the communication between doctors and patients, and enhanced health outcomes.
Data Collection Sources-
In the healthcare world, one of the most common and widely used big data sources is the EHRs. These include information of each patient, their demographic information helping in minimizing medical errors. The main benefits of the EHRs are their security and the comprehensiveness of patient information.
Another source for the data collection is via wellness and fitness devices such as Fitbit, Apple watches, or even health apps on mobile phones. These smart devices enable tracking of steps, heart rates, hydration levels, and sleep patterns, among other things, thus enabling real-time monitoring of the patient’s health. Further, telemedicine is another way of data collection. The advent of smartphones, wireless portable devices, and video conferencing has liberated the full potential of remote centers to provide comprehensive monitoring of the population.
The Benefits of Big Data Analytics
Big data analytics give organizations a way to analyze and collate information that can be beneficial in the long term on a bigger scale. Here are a few ways in which healthcare benefits from data analytics:
Evaluating Practitioner Performance
There is a seismic shift from volume-based to value-based care being observed with implementing healthcare analytics that can provide methods to evaluate health care practitioners’ performance and delivery. Through data, their performance can be scrutinized, providing an insight into the good and bad practices of the healthcare workers.
A major chunk of the population ignores the early signs of diseases or minor health issues to avoid cost bearing. With the help of such analytics, a reduction in costs can be achieved.
Healthcare analytics help in identifying large patterns that lead to a better understanding of the population’s health. Additionally, it can help in estimating individual patient costs and hence maximizing efficiency. Such detailed and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for healthcare organizations can lead to better results and lower costs.
With the help of predictive analytics, the healthcare sector can predict the patients at higher risk. Using the population’s medical history, demographics or socio-economic profile, health habits, behaviors, and external factors, the data can be used to predict the risk of chronic diseases and enable an aggressive procedure to intervene early.
With time, doctors, patients, insurance agents, and other organizational bodies have realized that data collection is significant in healthcare and has a prime role in decision making. With the help of analytical instruments, one can quickly and effectively collect and evaluate the statistics into the risks and preventions involved and play a massive role in saving lives.
Role of Big Data During COVID19
Globally, the impact of COVID19 on the healthcare sector was beyond devastating, leading to burnouts and the crashing of the industry as a whole, among many other unfortunate things.
However, according to a study, big data tools played an essential role in healthcare decision-making; assisting the organizational bodies who used these models to allocate resources, predict the waves and their peaks, improve patient care, explore treatment options, and employ the right prevention methods.
The data was utilized to predict a better path to overcoming the obstacles by reading the past, acting on the present, and supposed steps for the future.
Undeniably, the SARS-CoV-2 strain put those rugged aspects of healthcare into the spotlight that needed better recognition and allowed stakeholders to act upon the situations in a better way by learning and unlearning, merging the traditional with the modern, and providing a standardized solution.
The Future Ahead
Using a centralized, systemic way of collecting, storing, and analyzing data can greatly benefit organizations. The data collection in today’s healthcare sector has become more streamlined, helping improve the day-to-day operations to better patient care.
A patient-centric system is a need where the world before the pandemic and after the pandemic would be completely different ones, and the present period between, is the transition from the better to the best.
From the treatment of symptoms to the identification and prediction of risks, healthcare is going a long way towards the betterment of society and a healthier one. Lowering costs, preventive treatments, and an accessible system is the future ahead, where the data plays the prime role.