How Big Data and Analytics are Transforming Healthcare

Big data is unleashing a new chapter in humanity. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), collecting data is becoming relatively cheap. Devices such as mobile devices, cameras, wireless sensor networks, software logs and remote sensing devices are enabling the collection of large volumes of data that can be analysed to produce valuable insights that guide the decision making process. Our lives today are being driven by the voluminous amount of data being collected from every digital process we encounter in our daily routines in the various aspects of our existence.

The healthcare sector is one of the beneficiaries of big data and data analytics. The vast amounts of data being collected in this sector can be analyzed to provide valuable trends in public health. Data collected by different hospitals and clinics leaves a trail that can be insightful and provide patterns regarding public health. One of the fastest growing areas in healthcare is data analytics. With the increasing volume of data, it would be meaningless if data is siloed and left if the hands of a handful medical practitioners and hospitals. Partnerships between hospitals, doctors and organizations providing data analytics services will go a long way in identifying patterns and bolster efforts to nip outbreaks in the bud.

Internet of things (IoT), also referred to as Industrial Internet, is generating large volumes of data through interconnected smart devices. Healthcare IoT spending is on the rise as medical practitioners and other stakeholders seek to leverage the massive data at their disposal. This will be a game changer as smart devices can directly monitor patients and initiate a call with doctors in case of any anomalies in patients’ behavioural patterns.

According to McKinsey & Company, Pharmaceutical R&D suffers from declining success rates and a stagnant pipeline. Improved accessibility to big data and analytics could be a key element in speeding things back up. Data is improving bottom lines and cutting unnecessary overheads for hospitals. Data is also improving the quality of life and extending lifespans due to improvements in predicting epidemics and avoiding preventable deaths. Doctors are able to provide prescriptions remotely to patients through telemedics.

However, it is worth noting that healthcare professionals who would like to leverage on available healthcare information derived from data analytics need to be cautious to ensure whatever insights they are getting is from trusted sources. Untrusted sources can lead to wrong diagnosis and wrong prescriptions thus exacerbating an existing crisis.

On the flip side, cyber security is a big threat to this emerging phenomenon. Cyber thieves are targeting healthcare data through the use of ransomware. Cases have been reported of cyber security breaches on hospitals and insurers systems. Four London hospitals were attacked by a ransomware called Wannacry in May, crippling their operations. Medics were unable to access computers and medical records. Securing personal and confidential healthcare data is paramount. A security breach in which patient records are lost is tantamount to a disaster.

The healthcare industry is on the brink of transformation and information is at the forefront of this revolution. Data analytics becomes critical since sifting through the voluminous quantities of available data and generating valuable insights is all that matters.

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