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4 Ways Big Data Is Changing Healthcare

Big data's applications in medicine and healthcare could have a big impact on both industries

13Oct

Big data might sound like a fancy industry buzzword, but the truth of the matter is that these new applications for computer and cloud technology are changing the healthcare industry for the better.

What big changes have happened already thanks to big data, and what could it do for healthcare in the future?

1. Predicting & Preventing Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease are the cause of an enormous number of deaths every year - the American Heart Association estimates that upwards of 2,000 people die from cardiovascular-related conditions every day.

Big data could potentially change that with two different tools - remote monitoring and smartphone apps.

By pairing big data with a single lead EEG that’s started emerging in the market recently, patients who require cardiac monitoring don’t have to be restricted to a hospital room - they can be monitored remotely during their daily activities.

This creates a more accurate picture of the patient’s cardiac health and can also alert medical professionals to cardiac events that need to be addressed by emergency personnel.

This same signal lead EEG technology can be paired with smartphone apps. The patient wears small adhesive patches under their clothing, and all of the information can be fed to a remote monitoring app.

This is where big data comes into play - by collecting patient data, software can be created using machine learning algorithms to monitor that data, track cardiac health trends, and eventually even predict when a cardiac event is likely to occur.

2. Changing The Role Of CIOs

Until recently, healthcare wasn’t a field that really required the services of a Chief Information Officer (CIO). Their expertise was used almost exclusively for vendor relationships and the establishment of infrastructure.

Big data is changing the way that healthcare information is gathered, stored and shared, making the position of the CIO one that will have to change with it.

Upwards of 80% of polled CIOs have stated that their jobs now revolve primarily around innovation and the transformation of the medical industry - and big data has become a large part of this.

3. Surging Amounts Of Healthcare Data

Healthcare data is swiftly becoming entirely digital - health records, test results and medical imagery are all being transitioned to digital storage methods.

This helps to facilitate patient care, by making data immediately accessible to medical professionals, but it also creates an enormous cache of data that can be used for other purposes inside the medical community.

In the past, data collection allowed surgeons to better understand surgical tools’ smoke particle size and concentration, which eventually led to vision-improving surgical equipment. Today, artificial intelligence, or more specifically, machine learning and predictive algorithms, can be used to store and make sense of massive pools of data by tracking patterns, studying demographics, and making connections that would take a human researcher years to understand. Essentially, big data tools allow us to process and take action from such information more quickly.

4. Applying Predictive Technology To More Areas

We may not be able to tell the future by gazing into a crystal ball, but by pairing medical data with predictive technology, we may be able to predict particular data points.

By taking a patient’s medical record and inputting it into a predictive learning system, this artificial intelligence could be used to predict everything from who might get sick to locations where preventative services are needed to prevent health problems from becoming more costly.

It’s not magic or a crystal ball - it’s just data analysis at speeds that humans can’t keep up with.

That speed alone is changing medical technology in so many ways, many of which we may not even be able to fathom yet.

Big data is here to stay in the medical industry, though, making it one of the best technological advances in medicine in recent years. 

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