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How Big Data Is Making an Impact in Healthcare

Big Data is making its presence felt in every industry and has emerged as one of those technologies that have the potential to completely change the way businesses function. The insights generated from data can be leveraged to scale challenges and improve business outcomes and also assist in identifying new business opportunities. Given these reasons, the big data technology and services market is expected to grow to $48.6 Billion by 2019 growing at a CAGR of 23.1% over the 2014-2019 forecast period according to IDC. Big Data technology adoption has increased so significantly also because data gathering and analytics have become more real-time and more user-friendly making the data more usable. The healthcare industry, being a goldmine of data, is also seeing a great adoption of big data for making the entire ecosystem more efficient and cost effective. Healthcare analytics has the potential to not only make the healthcare system more streamlined but also assist in disease and drug discovery, improve healthcare delivery methods, predict pandemics and epidemics, and aid preventive healthcare.

Predictive Analysis

Predictive analytics has emerged as one of the biggest business intelligence trends for 2016. In healthcare, predictive analytics can help physicians predict patient outcomes by analyzing the data generated by them. Using algorithms to process the volume of big data, predictive analytics can help physicians make a more accurate diagnosis, enable early intervention to allow disease prevention, bring us closer to evidence-based medicine and can also help the healthcare providers with predictions regarding their costs.

Facilitate Drug Discovery

One big area in healthcare where big data is making a revolutionary impact is drug discovery. Pharmaceutical companies are employing big data to improve research and development efficiencies by collecting, analyzing, and processing large data sets. They are using this data to understand the predictive modeling of biological processes and potential candidate molecules that can be successfully developed into drugs. Steve Gardner, Partner at Biolauncher, a United Kingdom-based biopharma consultancy says, “The challenge of Big Data is the number of combinations of factors involved. For example, if you have 1,000 patients, you could have 1,000 genomes, 1,000 sets of comorbidities, 1,000 phenotypes — the list could go on.” While this seems like an exhaustive process, with this data at their disposal, timelines for drug discovery can be shortened significantly by using efficient analytics.

Contain Pandemics and Epidemics

With the advent of big data, healthcare providers no longer have to depend on surveys and censuses to track the lifespan of a disease. By studying the structured and unstructured data generated by the populace, health agencies can now track outbreaks and pandemics and develop real-time interventions. By analyzing the data sets, analysts can identify outbreaks and forecast where the disease might spread and also get clues to identify if new diseases are emerging. Using big data, epidemiologists can easily track population flow and identify where the pandemic or epidemic could strike next and thus enable preventive measures.

Improve Clinical Trials

Big Data can help in improving the outcomes of clinical trials by driving new clinical knowledge using retrospective and real-time data analysis. Big data makes it possible to sound observational studies that are statistically sound. It also gives the opportunity to make clinical trials more target specific and tap into a larger demographic consideration by considering more factors such as genetic information and other associated data. This helps in making the audience more specific and enables trials that are smaller, shorter and more powerful while being less expensive.

Healthcare System Optimization

By leveraging big data, hospitals and healthcare organizations can weed out unnecessary processes that decrease efficiencies. They can leverage the data to understand what the patients want and what the treatment does not provide. Big data can help hospital administration become more efficient, enable telemedicine practices, provide greater personalized treatment and ultimately reduce costs both for the organization and the patient.

Big Data and data analytics are becoming more than just buzzwords in the healthcare industry. However, to leverage data well, healthcare organizations must make a way for interoperability of this data within departments and also take the responsibility of data security so that they can be easily integrated into clinical and operational workflows.

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