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Big Data Improvements in the Health Care Industry

November 21, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Jennifer Livingston, Independent Technology Author

Big data offers access to previously raw or hidden data that can be used to discover valuable insights that increase preventable care, enhance patient engagement and improve patient quality of life. According to Forbes magazine, big data offers the solutions that health care organizations need as they continue to shift to value-based, patient-based models of proactive care. Big data provides health care executives with actionable insights for creating more efficient operations and effective systems.

Overcoming Traditional IT Barriers

Most health care leaders are open to leveraging big data solutions, but there are obstacles of security and expertise that must first be overcome. When it comes to legal mandates, HIPAA compliance is non-negotiable for all health care organizations. Patient data privacy and security are always a top priority, so big data solutions must adhere to security and data integrity requirements. Many health care executives are realizing that they do not have to provide dozens of data analysts with free access to health care databases. Instead, they only need to grant access to a few designated data scientists who then become legally liable for patient confidentiality and HIPPA regulations. Because many big data solutions run on open source technology, which comes with inconsistent security standards, health care organizations are choosing to be highly selective about their big data vendors. Sophisticated security solutions designed for big data research and HIPAA compliance are becoming more available in the health care industry.

Expanded Availability of IT Expertise

The value and benefits from big data in the health care industry used to be largely limited to specially trained data experts. More and more computer professionals, who may have backgrounds in databases, programming and systems analysis, are learning about big data technology. As a result, computer programmers and database managers who are already employed by health care systems can work with outside consultants to access, collect and analyze data. Most health care organizations will rely less and less on data scientists to manipulate and translate complex data sets because in-house technicians have learned that big data expertise translates to job security and career advancements. As open source tools and resources become more available, computer savvy health care professionals can increase their specialized skill sets and knowledge. For example, a database programmer who handles PACS systems will already be familiar with SQL, which the most commonly used programming language in both big data and database coding.

Big Data Benefits Impact Patient Outcomes

Most well-established health care systems tend to over focus on reducing costs instead of improving patient outcomes. Big data allows health care executives to achieve both as long as they adopt a patient-centered approach to workflows and data collection methods. Insights from big data helps health care providers to encourage patients to take an active role in their own health by making the right diet, exercise, lifestyle and preventive care choices. For example, wearable technology for patients with heart disease empowers produces critical lifestyle data that can be used to adjust individual choices. Big data helps health care administrators to deliver the timeliest treatment available to patients. This is only possible through leveraging big data to understand patient care trends and treatment opportunities. Big data is now being used by human resource professionals to analyze health care provider achievements and performance records. Health care quality can be improved through streamlining provider billing and reimbursement systems.

Leading health care systems have successfully used big data to achieve impressive improvements. For example, Kaiser Permanente’s new system HealthConnect to standardizes health record data exchanges across all types of medical facilities. Blue Shield of California improved health care delivery and patient outcomes by introducing an integrated system allows health care systems to deliver personalized, evidence-based care.

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , HEALTH IT

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