Big data is no longer just for the technology industry. It has proven useful in a plethora of industries, including healthcare, where it has the potential for numerous applications. Below are just five of the many ways big data is helping improve the healthcare industry.
1. Reducing medication errors
Errors with medication are amongst the biggest issues the healthcare system faces. While it may be impossible to eliminate human-based medication errors completely, big data can help to greatly reduce the chances of a patient ending up with an incorrect medication or dosage, both of which could prove fatal.
2. Marking patients as high-risk
Another big problem with the healthcare industry is uninsured and/or underinsured patients utilizing emergency rooms as their primary source of medical care. Not only is this bad for patient care, but it’s also a major culprit for increasing medical costs.
If big data could help identify those patients that are high-risk, we could see a reduction in the number of ER visits as well as obtain more customized patient care. Furthermore, this would help to lower the cost of medical care and reduce the amount of time people wait in the ER.
3. Reducing the risk of fraud and security breaches
As the recent Equifax meltdown has shown, data breaches are a big threat to any industry that deals with large amounts of personal data. The sheer volume of sensitive information the healthcare industry deals with means medical practices are 200% more likely to see a data breach.
Security risks are, unfortunately, a byproduct of introducing big data technology. This makes big data unattractive to business that may already be vulnerable to attack. Nevertheless, better technology and the overall benefits can often outweigh these risks.
4. Better patient outcomes
Big data enables those of us in the healthcare industry to collect medical data much better than before. This includes the possibility of wearables that can collect information 24/7 about a patient’s sleep, movement, heart rate and many other measurements.
Previously, it would have been virtually impossible to collect this kind of data from patients without spending outrageous amounts of time and money.
5. Electronic health records (EHR)
By utilizing big data, experts suggest that the healthcare industry could save upward of $400 billion. With a figure this large, it may come as a surprise that big data adoption is still sluggish.
One change that is becoming more universal is the switch from paper records to electronic health records (EHR). This may be a small step, but it is a small step in the right direction.