Powering Patient Care Using Big Data

How is data helping healthcare?


Did you know that our bodies have over 150 trillion gigabytes of data within it? That is enough to fill 75 billion 16GB iPads.

Although we cannot harness this kind of data to help us store data or to help build complex internal databases, we can use it successfully in healthcare.

This practice is in its infancy at present, but has opened up significant opportunities that are going to grow in the future.

Continuous Update

The way that people currently interact with their doctor is simple, they turn up to the surgery, talk to them for 5 minutes, have some tests, then leave.

The likelihood is that they spend less than an hour with their doctor each year, meaning that constant monitoring is not even close.

Through sensors and the ways in which data can be processed, it is possible for a doctor to monitor a condition or simply your wellbeing without even needing to contact you. The benefits of this go beyond convenience and actually allow for the effects of medication to be noted, the state of existing conditions monitored or even just general health checkups done remotely.

Mass Treatment

Case studies are a vital part of treatment. They let doctors know the best way to treat conditions or diseases alongside the different potential side effects that these treatments can cause.

The majority of case studies consist of individual cases or small sample studies, which are useful, but do not have the same resonance as large datasets.

Big Data allows these large datasets to be be created, meaning that treatments can be more specific as the data can be mined for specific purposes.

For instance, somebody with two particular conditions may be something that one doctor has not experienced or have not been widely covered in case studies. With a database consisting of millions of sufferers and their treatments, it will soon be easy to see which work and which don’t.

Gene Sequencing

Gene sequencing is the next ideation of this movement, the idea that through modelling the way that diseases have evolved in the past can predict the way that they will behave in the future.

This is commonly used in cancer treatments today, but is expensive, making it prohibitive to a large proportion of the population. If this is done more frequently and the price decreases, this kind of work could help in preventing diseases and slowing the spread of epidemics.

Imagine if we had this kind of power when Ebola first broke out? It would have been possible to see how the disease was likely to have evolved, the best treatments and the most successful ways to stop its spread. 


Read next:

Working At The Boundaries Of Aesthetics And Inference