Big Data is the current big thing in the technical world. It is having an impact on almost all the vital industries, including the healthcare industry. Big Data analytics and intelligence are providing new means to test, track and analyse datasets of unprecedented scale in the healthcare segment.
They can prove to be the key to bring about the transformation in crucial healthcare areas like drug trial safety, surveillance of diseases, prescribed treatment and outcome of results in patients. In this context Big Data can become an essential tool to know, improve and optimize our health. This brings us to the significant question: What is exactly ‘Big Data’?
What is Big Data?
Big Data can be defined as the voluminous amount of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that possesses the potential to be mined for substantial information. Big Data is characterized by three aspects: volume, variety and velocity. It deals with the extreme volume of data, the large variety of of data and the velocity at which the data has to be processed.
In other words, it relates to formation, storage, retrieval and analysis of data that can be marked in terms of volume, variety and velocity.
What is Big Data’s potential in transforming healthcare?
Big Data can be combined with new technology to bring about positive transformation in the health care segment. Technology aimed at making Big Data analytics a reality will be a key element in transforming the way the health care industry functions today. The analysis of Big Data can be utilized for tracking and managing population health care in an effective and efficient manner. It can also play a crucial role in delivering preventive care.
However, before such ambitious objectives are achieved, a lot remains to be done at the ground level. The most challenging thing to do will be to prepare organizations and individuals to work with Big Data. There must be substantial investment in IT solutions to optimize data processing. Emerging areas in the health care segment, such as the Health Information Exchange (HIE), Electronics Health Records (EHR) and Telehealth can be of extreme importance in shaping the health care industry in combination with Big Data.
How Big Data applications can help healthcare sector?
Big Data technologies can be effective for identifying concealed patterns in data sets that can lead to the revelation of several problem areas in health care and can also be useful in providing possible solutions. Some important applications of Big Data technologies are:
- Big Data tools can be utilized for detection of diseases and their possible prevention. Availability of relevant and updated information can help in the recognition of diseases at an early stage. Early detection improves the chances of proper medication and cure of the ailment.
- Big Data analytics can be an efficient tool for doctors in predicting the outcomes for patients. It can be a great means for predictive analytics – modern technologies that can be used to analyse available date and predict outcomes with an eye to improve patient’s health.
- Big Data can be of extreme help in centralizing information that is available with various health care facilities like outpatient centres, hospitals, medical centres, satellite clinics and telemedicine sites. Analysis of such information in a collective form can provide relevant information that can lead to better functioning of the health care industry.
- Data retrieval is another segment of health care where Big Data can be of immense utility. Effective query and analysis of available data can be easily achieved by Big Data technology. Such data can help medical professionals to make better decisions that can have impact on the well-being of the patient’s health.
- Big Data intelligence and application can also lead to the reduction of expenditures and costs related to medical care sector. It can make healthcare more affordable for the general masses. It can improve the chances of getting better medical help for people belonging to every strata of the society, regardless of their economic condition.
Apart from these applications, Big Data can be applied to various other aspects of the health care industry, such as medical research, personalization of patient care, drug monitoring and administration, etc.
What are the obstacles for using Big Data in the health care sector?
While Big Data comes with the promise of several interesting and important improvements for the health care segment, it also has to overcome a few obstacles.
- Security of information
Most information in healthcare is kept confidential due to various reasons. There is no doubt that ready availability of information will help in many ways to improve the functioning and services of the healthcare sector. However, there is some information that is required to be maintained in a confidential manner by those who are in charge of handling them.
- Change in healthcare industry culture
At present there is a lack of user-friendly software systems in many hospitals, medical centres and doctor’s clinics. However, only improving the technical aspects will not be of much use if there is no cultural and organizational transformation to derive advantage from the Big Data explosion.
Restructuring of the prevalent culture in hospitals and medical centres, educating professionals about converting Big Data information to actionable insights, and training employees can be integral to utilization of Big Data technologies.
Future of Big Data in the healthcare segment
Big Data analytics has tremendous potential to reduce the expenditure incurred on the healthcare sector in a vast country like India. This money can be utilized to improve the infrastructure of medical units and make healthcare available in far flung areas.
Utilization of Big Data analysis can result in early detection and prevention of life threatening diseases. It can help in decreasing the mortality rates of new-borns. In short, Big Data can improve the overall health care scenario of the country and help an individual to lead a healthy life by controlling and eliminating diseases effectively.