How Big Data is Revolutionizing Healthcare
The healthcare industry is by no means a vertical that is to be taken lightly. Ask any medical practitioner and they will tell you that the nerve-wracking moments that they go through every day in the OR and ER are not for the faint-hearted (no pun intended). Beyond the life or death situations that the industry has become so well accustomed to, there are several processes that revolve around the pre and post-treatment phases. Given the ever-growing population today there is a dire need for a system that will help ease these processes and allow some room for medical support staff to work with. This is where Big Data comes in. In an age where data governs most aspects of human activity, there is a lot that big data can offer to the healthcare sector.
Big Data in Healthcare Research
The amount of data collected during healthcare treatments and procedures is a gold mine for researchers. Apart from the data collected in hospitals, there are several other means through which data can be gathered. The basic devices we use today such as the heartbeat monitor, the calorie counter, and so on, most of which are either available or integrated into our smartphones. Such data once analyzed could be transmitted to various medical institutions where professionals could arrive at diagnosis and treatments for various potential and incipient ailments. The vast amount of data from various sources allows medical professionals to perform a comparative analysis of various different symptoms displayed by each of them.This could in turn aid in the creation of a more comprehensive treatment. This also keeps doctors updated on whatever ailments they are dealing with and will not be left in the dark when they stumble upon a new symptom.
One of the most difficult tasks after the treatment process is maintaining patients’ records. Again the massive population today make things infinitely difficult for professionals that maintain records. Even countries with well-established healthcare systems face issues related to this more often than one would care to anticipate in such a field. Mistakes in records have ranged from financial irregularities to complications in treatments and medication given. To resolve this big data has proven to be quite an effective tool. However, this is a process that is easier said than done, as integrating Electronic Healthcare Records into any healthcare systems is quite a daunting task with various drawbacks of its own. The benefits of EHRs far outweigh the efforts many institutions have to go through to adopt them.
There are several efforts being made by many countries to make this a mandatory part of the global healthcare community. Doing so would allow healthcare to be delivered more smoothly. Furthermore, such a system would allow doctors to get better insights on patients who were previously receiving treatment in other institutions or countries.
Big data plays a huge role in modernizing many of the methods in which clinical trials are carried out and allow researchers to get the most out of the data acquired therein. Big Data is used to pick the most suitable candidates for the trials. The desired traits that researchers are looking for are sorted out using big data. Likewise, the effectiveness of medication and the areas that they are most likely to affect are also determined using big data. Big data has been used a great deal in finding a cure for the so-far unconquerable cancer.
Wearable Healthcare Devices
There is no deficiency of wearable devices today that are capable of doing a great many things that would ‘make our lives easier’. From blood pressure to heartbeat there is a device you can wear in some form or the other that can monitor each and every one of your bodily functions. These devices are capable to transmit data directly to doctors or the institutions they represent. With advancements in IoT and automation, in the near future, it is quite possible we could have these devices connect with other publicly available healthcare automatons.
With cybersecurity being the menace which it is today, data vulnerability is an issue that plagues every industry and healthcare, in particular, could incur huge losses on all levels. It is hard to imagine the horrors that could be unleashed if personal medical and insurance records are hacked, not to mention payment details such as credit cards associated with them. Big data is the key here and quite often could play an instigating role in the data breaches rather than dissuade them. So ultimately when it comes to records big data is a technology that the healthcare industry must tread carefully with.
The application of IBM Watson in the healthcare sector was quite a revolutionary step. The AI which uses big data to derive various solutions. IBM Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to help healthcare institutions arrive at the most optimal treatment for the symptoms that patients may display. Watson has access to a comprehensive database of medical records pertaining to previous treatments, clinical trials, personal updates from physicians and researchers on various ailments and so on. While there is a certain margin of error with the diagnosis and hypothesis provided by Watson, it predicts the level of success in the treatment based on that data as well. This is quite a useful tool which in the hands of a seasoned physician could be leveraged to a successful degree.
Big Data today brings a lot of promise for the healthcare sector. In the years to come, there are various possibilities that could be brought to life through the use of big data. However, it potential for security threats and so on is something that we must all be cautious of before jumping fully into the technological development bandwagon. This, as a matter of fact, is a risk that most healthcare sector leaders are well aware of and are to a certain degree prepared to address with caution. Only time will tell how much this seemingly life-changing technology could come to influence our lives.