Healthcare Industry Balances Big Data Insights and Patient Care

April 2nd, 2014 by - 2,674 views

The United States health care industry is undergoing a revolutionary change. Between the Affordable Care Act’s influence over the insurance landscape and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) push for electronic health record (EHR) adoption, medical organizations are under an enormous amount of pressure. Amid the chaos, cloud computing and associated technologies have offered these professionals a measure of solace as they transition into a more digital environment.

A doctor uses her tablet to obtain patient information.

A doctor uses her tablet to obtain patient information.

The patient comes first 
In today’s fast-changing marketplace, it’s easy for those using Big Data to lose sight of what matters to individual care receivers. Analytics programs have given companies outside the industry, such as Netflix, accurate, near real-time insight into subscriber entertainment preferences. For healthcare, using Big Data to assemble actionable information about widespread diseases is critical, but it’s also important to use the same predicative tools to assist individual patients.

As is often the case, however, implementation may be easier said than done. According to CMO magazine, many companies lack the IT architecture necessary for an analytics program to operate to its full potential. Similarly, a large number of hospitals still use on-premise data centers as opposed to cloud infrastructure. And although CMS has instigated use of EHR, many hospitals have forced those programs to work on systems that don’t offer the same flexibility as cloud computing.

The whole premise of the EHR initiative was to create an environment that allowed doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators to easily access patient information. To date, facilities that have adopted the technology have been able to do so, but at a much slower pace than anticipated. Plus, the data within the individual records can’t be dissected by algorithms to figure out which treatment methods would best suit particular care receivers.

The Big Data advantage
Yet, professionals can’t deny the fact that Big Data has a place in the healthcare industry. Elena Malykhina, a contributor to InformationWeek, said that a report conducted by EMC, funded by the federal government, revealed 63 percent of public IT professionals believe that analytics tools will help monitor and manage population health more efficiently. An additional 60 percent reported that the technology will improve how preventive care is delivered.

Malykhina noted that there are many accompanying technologies that need to be implemented to optimize Big Data programs. Machine-to-machine technology, which allows devices to communicate with one another for the purpose of collecting, sharing, and storing medical information regarding patients, is instrumental for the success of an analytics program.

Due to government regulations and a desire to maintain pace with the 21st century, the healthcare industry is expected to make significant investments in cloud-based solutions. MarketsandMarkets reported that the market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.5 percent over the next 3 years. The source cited the transitions to advanced claims processing procedures and to ICD-10 clinical diagnosis codes as significant contributing factors to increased adoption.

Acknowledging the possibilities 
The investment anticipated by MarketsandMarkets signifies a willingness to abide by government regulations and take advantage of the digital mandates. In the past, technology has been recognized for its ability to reduce time spent on manual processes. That’s why many hospital CIOs charged with making EHR implementation a reality are consulting their peers to learn out how other digital technologies can depreciate operating costs and improve patient care reception.

It’s anticipated that data analytics programs hosted on cloud infrastructure will enable doctors and nurses to obtain information more quickly than in the past. In addition, these professionals will be able to consult algorithmic conclusions that identify possibly life-saving information that even the most assiduous eyes could have previously overlooked.

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