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Harnessing the Power of Big Data in Health Care

Autor: mindfield086  •  February 28, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,715 Words (7 Pages)  •  390 Views

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Executive Summary

At the heart of many health care industry debates lies the question of what to do about big data: how to understand its potential and its value for quality care, how to use it to moderate cost growths, how to share data, and how to safeguard it. Physicians confront significant obstacles in their attempt to implement business intelligence tools, a data warehouse and analytics. Part of the problem arises due to resistance to change – providers are accustomed to making treatment decisions independently, using their own judgments, rather than relying on protocols based on big data. Another obstacle is that healthcare data is diverse, encompassing structured and unstructured information in a variety of formats. Lastly, data is owned by an array of stakeholders with no way to easily share data among different providers or facilities, partly due to privacy concerns. And even within a single hospital or insurance company, important information remains hidden in one department because the organization lacks procedures for integrating data and communicating findings.

While other industries are using big data to increase efficiencies and make more informed decisions, the healthcare industry trails far behind, much to its disadvantage. A 2011 McKinsey report estimated that by leveraging big data, the health care industry can potentially realize $300 billion in savings per year.1 To do so, however, the healthcare sector must identify and establish proven strategies and best practices to manage big data and to perform the complex analysis vital to generate insights that will benefit the healthcare system.

The purpose of this paper is to help illustrate how providers, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations can identify and understand models for innovative uses of data which can enable them to reduce costs, improve quality and provide better care. Areas of focus include the processing, analysis, and management of data, while addressing the unique challenges found in the health care industry, one of which is the goal to use data to make more informed, evidence-based decisions.

What Exactly Is Big Data?

The healthcare industry historically has generated large amounts of data due to record keeping, compliance and regulatory requirements, and patient care2. Although most data used to be stored in hard copy form, the trend is towards rapid digitization of these large amounts of data. It is estimated that data from US HealthCare system reached 150 exabytes in 2011.3 So what exactly is big data?

A report delivered to the U.S. Congress in August 2012 defines big data as “a term that describes large volumes of high velocity, complex, and variable data that require advanced techniques and technologies to enable the capture, storage, distribution, management, and analysis of the information.”4 But big data in healthcare is overwhelming


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