As the healthcare industry continues to implement digital solutions to meet the requirements of the digital age, the amount of complex data organizations receive has increased.

This has left us with more information about health than we’ve ever had before, but so much of it isn’t looked into because the industry is struggling to analyze this information effectively.

This is where big data comes in. On the surface, it’s a term used to describe a large amount of structured or unstructured data that businesses receive every day, but it goes deeper than that.

This technology actually uses three different kinds of analytics to uncover deep insights into aspects of industries we’ve previously been unable to explore.

These types of analytics are prescriptive, predictive and descriptive, and are used to identify patterns and trends within datasets that allow businesses to implement better solutions to current problems.

As you can imagine, this could have exponential benefits on the healthcare industry, but it is still not being used on a mainstream basis.

With that being said, many flagship healthcare organizations have implemented big data to some degree, and the benefits to their organizations but also the industry as a whole are better than anyone could have predicted. 

In this article, we will be discussing just a few of the pioneering benefits of using big data in the healthcare industry. 

Makes Healthcare Organizations More Efficient

One part of the healthcare industry that has almost unanimously been digitized is the operational side of the business.

This includes things like managing the workflow of employees, assigning enough staff to cover staff shortages, and directing more resources to where they are needed.  

Doing all of this manually, however, can be extremely time consuming and requires the expertise of staff who may be better suited to more complex, specialist roles within an organization.

Using big data can allow this to happen, as it will automatically take control of the operational side.

It will do everything, from tracking staff metrics to make sure there are the right amount of people on a shift at any time, to redesigning workflows for maximum productivity. 

The predictive analytics side to big data can also be used to predict future staffing issues to prevent problems from occurring ahead of time.

Can Be Used As A Preventative Measure

One of the big focuses of the healthcare industry in recent years has been to improve preventative medicine so that people can be treated before their condition is upgraded to an emergency situation.

Big data is a significant part of improving these measures, as it can be used to analyze data to identify trends and patterns of behavior. 

As a result, high-risk groups could then be identified and those fitting into said groups could be treated or advised before their condition becomes an emergency.

One example of where big data is being implemented for this purpose is with the battle against opioid abuse. 

This became a public health emergency a few years ago, but efforts to prevent it heightened last year when overdoses due to misuse of opioids overtook road accidents as the most common cause of accidental death in the US.

With big data, however, researchers are able to go through a number of high-risk factor patterns that appear in opioid abuse users. 

Having this information will then allow professionals to sit down with an individual and discuss the potential for addiction before it occurs, reducing the number of people succumbing to a devastating addiction.

Improves Patient Outcomes

Big data is also useful in the healthcare industry for helping to analyze larger parts of patient health data.

This, in turn, allows doctors and other medical professionals to hone in on hard to diagnose and rare diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. 

In particular, big data allows these professionals to collect more in-depth information about how these diseases affect individuals. 

As a result, they can then create better treatment plans and therefore improve patient outcomes. 

While big data on its own is effective for improving patient outcomes, its benefits can also be enhanced when utilized alongside other technology.

One of these is smart medical devices which, according to Orthogonal, are crucial for providing individualized data that will help us gain the unique clinical insights necessary for truly personalized care.

Reduces Costs

At the moment, the healthcare industry is struggling under a mountain of debt, and costs that continue to rise.

Despite charging people to access services, many healthcare facilities are struggling to retain profit, for a multitude of reasons.

These reasons include fraud, unpaid medical bills, and even counterfeit drugs, but big data could help.

In fact, according to Digital Authority Partners, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services managed to save more than $210 million in fraud alone just one year after implementing big data. 

If big data is implemented on a more long term basis, we could see these savings in fraud and other parts of the industry reduce drastically, primarily due to predictive analytics. 

 

Keeps Patient Data More Secure

With 94% of hospitals in the US using online electronic health records (EHRs), data security is an extremely big issue in the healthcare world. 

This means that many healthcare organizations are looking into ways of protecting their data and preventing it from being hacked. 

This is no easy task, however, because the personal data health records contain look extremely attractive in the eyes of a hacker.

According to HealthcareWeekly, this is a big reason why data breaches are 200% more likely to occur in the healthcare field than any other. 

By using big data, it’s easy to determine where the weak parts of a system are by analyzing where potential attacks are happening, or what parts of your digitized systems are likely to be targeted.

Having this information allows healthcare facilities to team up with encryption and antivirus technology to make data more secure in the long run. 

Summary

Despite some criticisms of big data in healthcare, it’s undeniable that it comes with some big benefits for the industry.

Among other things, these include keeping patient data more secure and ensuring that healthcare organizations can continue to run without hemorrhaging profits. 

All of the things we’ve mentioned in this article will make a crucial difference in the way the healthcare industry is run as we digitize services to keep up with the digital revolution.

At the end of the day, there won’t be a future for healthcare without the introduction and increasing use of big data in day to day operations.