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Big Data Has A Huge Part To Play In The Future Of Healthcare

How it goes beyond simply use cases

6May

We have discussed the use of Big Data and analytics in healthcare extensively on the channels during the past few months, but having discussed the particular issues that it may address, we have not looked at it in a more holistic way. 

Looking at particular use cases is beneficial, but the use of data is going to go well beyond simple projects and will instead take a far more pronounced role in how healthcare companies, practitioners and technologies interact with their patients.

We believe that there are four key areas that Big Data will have an impact on.

Budget Management

Whether we like it or not, when we get older our health generally tends to deteriorate. We spend more time in hospitals, treatments take longer and long term implications become more pronounced.

This means that the amount spent on our health increases too. This could be a bill picked up by an insurer or even by the state. Either way, with most western countries now facing an ageing population, they need to not only keep their populations healthy, but they also need to look at reducing the cost of doing this.

Big Data improves efficiency, it cuts waste and makes predictions on treatments far more accurate. It will be through this that insurance companies and states can save the billions of dollars that are lost every single year with ineffective treatments on people who could have had better service if their data was available in an easily accessible manner.

Genome Access

One simple way of doing this is through mapping somebody’s genome.

Under President Clinton the practice of mapping somebody’s genome was seen as a waste of money, but now looks like it may have been one of the single most important legacies from his two terms.

The human genome contains around 100GB of data that can be used to help with specific treatments. One of which is Cancer, which up until now has generally been treated by attacking everything and hoping to eradicate the tumor, with the data available, it will be possible to make more accurate predictions based on the specifics of the patient, rather than the general rules of the treatment.

It could mean that the way we currently treat diseases (generally with one size fits all approaches) are a thing of the past, increasing the chances of success and decreasing the cost of these treatments in the long run.

More Accessibility To The Non-Skilled

IBM announced that their Watson cognitive computing system is going to expand into more areas, one of them being healthcare.

In their May 5 announcement they made clear that they see healthcare as a major growth area for the project which allows queries to be answered through speech, meaning that the requirements for detailed knowledge of algorithms and data management are not needed. This will give GPs the opportunity to use some of the most powerful data sets from simply talking to their computers.

IBM are not going to be the only company to do this and we have seen with companies like Wolfram Alpha, that the ability to translate human language into actionable commands is possible. With this being a possibility and the simplicity of accessing particular problems becoming easier through pre-defined algorithms, the chances of being able to cure any kind of disease through data does not require a PHD in computing as well as medicine.

Available On The Go

We have discussed M-Health in the past, but the implications that this could have on the overall state of the healthcare landscape cannot be overstated. It means that people have the opportunity to track their health on the go, doctors have a far more holistic view of somebody’s health and therefore giving them the possibility of providing health advice on the go.

The ability of technology to communicate and analyze data in real time has meant that those who suffer from disease will be able to be tracked and their health monitored so that they can be assured that should the worst happen, their doctor will know and can help. It allows for a real time solution for those who may not be able to track their health 24/7. 

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