The Challenges & Benefits of Big Data in Healthcare

Published: June 11, 2018Updated: June 06, 2022
3 min to read
The Challenges & Benefits of Big Data in Healthcare

There are huge quantities of data collected within healthcare via Electronic Health Records (EHRs), Electronic Patient Records (EPRs) and systems used for clinical decision making. The data is then organised so healthcare professionals can work towards making decisions that will improve health outcomes as well as keep costs in check.

What Is Big Data in Healthcare?

As big data invades all layers of business, healthcare has not escaped. So how exactly is big data impacting on healthcare?

Healthcare & Big Data

The use of EHRs, imaging and medical devices produce huge amounts of data. Big data takes the zettabytes produced in over 30 billion transactions that occur within healthcare every year and organizes the data, providing insight into areas that are issues within the industry — rising costs and medication areas being the most common.

The huge amounts and the specific nature of the data created within the healthcare environment is perfect for big data to make a real difference to the overall management of the business. As healthcare providers look to make savings and run more efficiently, big data has certainly caught their attention.

Of course, along with the benefits there are also challenges. But to begin we need to examine why big data analytics are so popular.

Why Big Data?

The collection of huge amounts of data provides insights through the use of analytics software. There is now so much medical data available the technology struggles to keep up. The collection and analysis of data has been around for decades but big date differs in both volume and the ways it can be used to reduce business costs and help develop new products. The healthcare environment can benefit greatly from these types of insight.

The BIG Advantages for Healthcare

The provision of holistic patient care plans, the creation of patient profiles and the detection, prevention and treatment of disease earlier are some of the key ways healthcare can utilize big data. Information on the health of the population as well as the individual means that it is easier than ever to predict outcomes and take early preventative measures. Financial savings through the prevention of fraud can be made, and the quality of service provision enhanced.

Technical Challenges

There are two main issues facing big data in healthcare are structural. The first is a lack of technical skills. Many IT experts currently working on traditional databases within the hospital setting are not equipped to cope with big data, needing to hire data scientists to manipulate the data.

In addition, security is a key issue within healthcare with big data storage becoming a common target for hackers or APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats). Most organizations are stringent with their security measures, however Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance must be stringently adhered to.

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Big Data Enhances Healthcare Provision

It is likely that big data will be adopted by healthcare organizations in increasing numbers. As a result the providers can take advantage of improvements in medical technology and finance, while the consumer will enjoy better care. With information available to create customer profiles organizations can maintain customer loyalty, increase efficiency and become more cost effective.

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