Science is Beautiful Blog

The Impact of Healthcare IT Part 2: Big Data, Big Cloud, Big Finance.

Posted by David Patti, Senior Vice President

Mar 14, 2014 4:00:00 PM


Big Data and the US healthcare system have been growing closer for years, which is especially apparent now as more hospitals and private practices are adopting databases and cloud-based solutions. Today, healthcare related expenses represent more than 17 percent of GDP in the United States, making every byte of health-related data crucial.

Inside and Out

The changes to healthcare are vast, ranging from advances in personalized medicine all the way to the expansion of analytics. As a result, medical professionals are able to customize treatment options for particular patients and share the outcomes through databases, largely increasing the supply availability of medical information.

As healthcare continues to move towards specialized medicine, including complex procedures such as epigenetics-based treatments and personalized medicine solutions, technology is becoming an increasingly important piece of the puzzle. One of the greatest changes to take place as a result of the Afforadable Care Act is the model in which doctors are being compensated for patient outcomes as opposed to the volume of patients treated. This requires both quick and efficient information sharing and the ability to solidly determine treatment options and evaluate potential outcomes and success.

Companies that work to strengthen the link between the providers and the recipients of healthcare are in the best possible position. As Big Data and the US healthcare system become dependent on one another, partnerships such as that formed between AstraZeneca and HealthCore, the analytics subsidiary of Wellpoint, will become more commonplace. The data collected by analytics companies like HealthCore will inform both R&D decisions and how the resulting products are used.

Making Positive Changes

Some of the companies that are involved in changing the relationship between Big Data and the US healthcare system are working on new solutions by investigating new types insurance plans and supporting clinical decision-making options. Some even strive to present healthcare options to patients the same way one can search for movies on Netflix. Castlight Health is working to provide a search engine that will allow the patient to determine which provider can offer the right services at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost. As the power of data sharing becomes better known and more accessible to patients, companies will need to adapt to the changes in the delivery of healthcare in order to survive.

Making Sense of the Mess

Big data is all about taking massive amounts of information and attempting to discover patterns that can aid both researchers and practitioners in providing better healthcare. Smaller companies and labs dealing with smaller sources of data tend to be more focused on the individual and suffer from the gaps in technology and information exchange. 

A perfect example of collating information is a company called Explorys. This company is out to make medicine more effective and simultaneously reduce its costs, and it does so by collecting data in real time, comparing the costs to the results. A similar young company, Apixio, is going one step further by  taking into account the encounter notes of physicians.

Big Data has become a massive part of the United States healthcare system. Because of this tight connection, today's companies need to deal with data effectively at every level to stay competitive.

What are your thoughts about the potential impact of Big Data on the healthcare industry? 

Topics: Big Data and Healthcare


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