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Big data: The key to revolutionizing healthcare

Big data: The key to revolutionizing healthcare

Big data has transformed many industries from banking to retail services, and now it is transforming healthcare.

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Healthcare is among the most data intensive industries, generating 2,500 petabytes of data every day. These huge volumes come from sources such as patient information, prescriptions, diagnostic tests and insurance claims. And 90 percent of this data has been created in the last two years alone.

Technology adoption is taking place at a fast pace, which is transforming the whole healthcare industry. From visiting the physician to video consultations, being prescribed a health app and using a smartphone as a diagnostic tool, healthcare is truly changing.

Challenges

This transformation has thrown numerous challenges at healthcare providers and it no longer restricts to storing huge volumes of data generated by patients, physicians, hospitals, insurers and researchers.

“From visiting the physician to video consultations, being prescribed a health app and using a smartphone as a diagnostic tool, healthcare is truly changing. t”

The challenges start with the onboarding, processing and integration of the data sources. It is not just about storing the data but more importantly analyzing it to deliver actionable insights and engaging visualizations, which are easy to understand and interpret.

Other challenges encountered include integrating data insights into treatment plans, receiving and responding to alerts from patient monitoring devices, and managing e-visits with patients displaying behavioral health issues.

Digitization has created a paradigm shift in the field of healthcare, supporting rapid advancements in medical technology and overall quality of care. Care delivery is changing and this can be attributed to the overwhelming use of health-related smartphone apps that have doubled within two years (from 16 percent to 32 percent). Another reason being the acceptance from people welcoming the idea of health apps and wearables.

Smartphone technology through healthcare monitors and wearables has made it possible to track in real–time, every step that we take, calories we consume and the amount of water and sleep we need. Having access to this comprehensive information about the patient enables physicians to offer data driven personalized treatment and care rather than a general prognosis.

Driven by the internet of things (IoT), smartphone technology has made a serious impact in the healthcare industry. With many other industries embracing this change, healthcare was more reluctant. However, IoT adoption is becoming a must-have competitive factor and this competition is all set to become more relentless and persistent with time.

A report by P&S Market Research highlights that healthcare IoT will record a CAGR of 37.6 percent between 2015 and 2020. It also predicts that this rise will be pushed by remote monitoring healthcare systems, which can detect chronic life-threatening diseases. By creating an atmosphere of personalized healthcare monitoring through wearables, IoT seem to have become a trend already. Some popular smart devices and their features include blood cell monitoring devices capable of diagnosing conditions at an early stage, pulse sensor monitoring stress for holistic health analysis and diagnosis and wristbands to scan blood and track eating habits to suggest nutrition choices.

Age of analytics

The healthcare industry is turning to big data analytics to help analyze raw, unstructured, complex and diverse data, and derive patient insights to deliver personalized healthcare and reduce the burden of costs borne by patients and healthcare providers. Analytical tools and technologies bring structure and transparency to important issues such as privacy, security, standards and governance in healthcare.

“With the volume of research information and patient data in healthcare skyrocketing, over the next decade, healthcare organizations must strive for accuracy in efficiently interpreting and using the data.”

Global market research firm MarketsandMarkets predicts a massive rise in the healthcare IT industry from USD 134.25 billion in 2016 to USD 280.25 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 15.9 percent during the forecast period. This growth will be propelled by factors including government policies, high ROIs on investment for healthcare solutions, curbing escalating healthcare costs and increase in the use of big data analytics etc.

MarketsandMarkets also predicts that global healthcare analytics market will reach USD 24.55 billion by 2021 from USD 7.39 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 27.1 percent. Recognizing its potential and influence on healthcare management, organizations are harnessing the power of big data, which facilitates proactive, predictive analysis of data for early detection of diseases. 

With the volume of research information and patient data in healthcare skyrocketing, over the next decade, healthcare organizations must strive for accuracy in efficiently interpreting and using the data. Big data has transformed many industries from banking to retail services. Big data revolution in healthcare is still in its nascent stage but it can transform the industry by reducing costs, improving patient outcomes and saving millions of lives.

To this end, stakeholders must join forces to break down technical and cultural barriers to leverage existing data more effectively, enabling healthcare providers to adopt a more value based rather than a volume driven approach to healthcare. 

The author is Managing Principal and Head of Global Delivery at Axtria

Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).

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