Leveraging big data to help improve healthcare

Simone Edelmann, PhD

Editor at HealthcareTransformers.com

Leveraging big data to help improve healthcare

23 February 2021 | 5min

Quick Takes

  • The use of big data has powerful potential to enhance patient experiences and outcomes

  • In order to leverage big data, healthcare leaders need to navigate through key challenges including the integration of new technologies and data privacy & security

  • Download our free ebook to learn more

Big data and its potential role in enhancing patient experience and outcomes

Leveraging big data is certainly not a new concept to healthcare leaders. In an industry facing rising costs, it can enhance organizational efficiencies with the aim to save precious resources in an industry faced with rising costs. The greater value, however,  comes from the enormous potential of big data to improve patient experiences and outcomes. 

6 ways this can be achieved is through:1-9

  1. Disease prevention and early intervention
  2. Facilitating information sharing between stakeholders
  3. Feeding data from wearable tech
  4. Enhanced patient engagement
  5. Improving diagnostics and drug development
  6. Improving public health management

To learn more about how big data can help to improve patient experience and care, download our ebook.

Overcoming the challenges of leveraging big data in healthcare

With the goal of leveraging big data comes key challenges that healthcare leaders need to navigate through in order to move forward safely and effectively. Key challenges of big data in the healthcare industry can be attributed to integration, privacy, cultural change in human behaviour, and supply chain. 

For example, because the integration of data can be a very involved task requiring numerous stakeholders to manage and multiple levels of regulation, difficulties in data curation, capture, sharing, search, visualization, as well as information privacy and storage can arise. 

To truly realize the potential of big data in our healthcare systems and across the industry, organizations can take specific action to implement big data solutions, such as:

  • Evaluating data management practices
  • Establishing a skilled workforce, and 
  • Being open to new collaborations and partnerships 

To learn more about the challenges of implementing big data in healthcare, as well as the solutions that can be used to mitigate them, download our ebook

Wearable health technology – closing the gaps in patient data and care

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Wearable health devices are increasingly helping people to better monitor their own health status, while at the same time, helping to close the gaps in patient data and care

According to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease – could reach $47 trillion over the next 15 years.10

Not only can devices provide more data to clinicians with potential for earlier diagnosis and improved treatment guidance, they can also provide more accurate data compared to what is disclosed in face-to-face consultations. Over time, these technologies may be more representative of a patient’s health status than measurements taken at a specific point in time. 

Potential issues in the field as predicted by analysts such as the example of major tech firms such as Google partnering with independent hospitals, which raises concerns about the containment of healthcare data.11

At a high level, these actions can be taken to by healthcare organizations to benefit from wearable tech. 

  • Encourage the use of data
  • Establish new methods of data collection
  • Staff training on the latest regulations
  • Equip the team at all levels with context and knowledge

How the healthcare industry is embracing artificial intelligence

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Given the complexity and rise of data in healthcare, the value in the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot be ignored. 

AI has been used to transform aspects of patient care and create efficiencies for clinicians, researchers and administrators as seen with AI algorithms being used to filter, organize and search for patterns in big data sets and in predictive analytics.12

AI also holds immense promise in the analysis of medical imaging and personalized care for individual patients.

Of course, AI doesn’t come without challenges, privacy and security of data being a major one. Risks around doctor acceptance of technology and healthcare regulation are also reviewed. 

Despite the challenges, AI is emerging in healthcare organizations with various projects being run. One example is from the Bering Research and general practitioners at Axbridge Surgery in Somerset, UK. They are using an AI tool to analyze and produce a complexity score that is based on a percentage scale, relating to underlying health conditions and a range of contributory factors. Higher scores correlate with a higher risk of the patient needing to be admitted to hospital.13   

The future of AI for healthcare professionals

With innovation pushing the boundaries of healthcare to address the key pressures the healthcare industry is facing such as costs, time, and efficiency, AI is becoming a clear path forward and can provide massive value when algorithms are combined with healthcare apps and healthcare processes.

At a high level, your organizations can take these actions to benefit from AI:

  • Identify potential growth areas within your organization that could benefit from AI
  • Provide training on a case study basis that demonstrates how the use of AI has been employed
  • Evaluate and identify possible long-term partnerships to co-develop and implement custom AI-based solutions. 

Healthcare is the one of the largest and most complex sectors today with pressuring demands for better and more efficient service for patients. The more data being handled and collected by healthcare professionals, the more effective solutions we seek when it comes to handling this digital information with care and safety. 

Click on the link below to access your copy of, “Leveraging big data in healthcare”.

What we aim to answer:

  • What does big data mean in healthcare and how is it changing the industry?
  • What are the technologies that can have the largest impact towards improving patient outcomes and delivery of care?
  • What are the challenges when it comes to evolving the healthcare landscape?
  • How can healthcare professionals use data and technology to their advantage and in turn improve patient outcomes?

Simone Edelmann, PhD is an editor and contributor at HealthcareTransformers.com. After completing her PhD from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, she found her passion in medical and scientific communications. She is dedicated to delivering high-quality content on the topic of the future of healthcare to our readers.

References

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  2. Wang L et al. (2011). N Engl J Med 364, 1144–1153. Paper available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184612/ [Accessed December 2019]
  3. Leggett RM et al. (2019). Rapid MinION profiling of preterm microbiota and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. Nat Microbiol. Paper available from: doi:10.1038/s41564-019-0626-z [Accessed December 2019]
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  9. Dolley S. (2018). Front Public Health 6(6)
  10. World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health. (2011). Article available from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Harvard_HE_GlobalEconomicBurdenNonCommunicableDiseases_2011.pdf [Accessed January 2020]
  11. The Guardian. (2019). Article available from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/11/google-healthcare-ascension-privacyhealth-data [Accessed January 2020]
  12. Lysaght T et al. (2019). Asian Bioethics Review. 11, 299-314. Paper available from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41649-019-00096-0#enumeration [Accessed December 2019]
  13. Bering. (2019). Article available from https://hettshow.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2019/10/AI-to-predict-Emergency-Admissionsmaking-it-a-reality-in-the-NHS-Allison-nation-ignat-drozdov.pdf [Accessed January 2020]