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Can Big Data Fix Healthcare?

Unleashing the Power of Data to Improve Healthcare

The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus, according to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office.

Big Data—the ability to collect, process and interpret massive amounts of information—is one of today’s most important technological drivers. Increasingly, recent conversations with customers around the world have included the need to address multiple types of data, commonly called “multi-domain” in master data management (MDM) circles.

As hospitals digitize patient records and amass huge amounts of data, many are turning to companies such as Microsoft, SAS, Dell (DELL), IBM (IBM), and Oracle (ORCL) for their data-mining expertise, which can help medical providers perform detective work and improve care. The so-called Big Data business has already permeated other industries and generated more than $30 billion in revenues last year, according to research firm IDC. It’s expected to grow to close to $34 billion this year in part because of increased use in the health-care industry. Crunching numbers is potentially good business for hospitals as well. By making “meaningful use” of computer systems, they’re eligible for millions of dollars in government funding from the Obama administration’s $14.6 billion program launched in 2009 to encourage adoption of electronic medical records.

The use of data-mining technology has already led to some measurable improvements in patient care. New York-Presbyterian, which started using Microsoft technology to scan patient records in 2010, has reduced the rate of potentially fatal blood clots by about a third.

However, patients don’t like having their data mined because they are afraid insurance companies and employers will use conditions against them to deny coverage or job considerations. Maybe if some advanced economies can figure out how the pursuit of happiness and freedom of speech translates into trust, acceptance and protection throughout all levels of our lives then people will be all for using their data to improve our lives. Right now the data is often used to deny access to healthcare and jobs.

Other Challenges
IT managers aren’t prepared to handle the deluge of data in health care, Oracle revealed in its new report, “From Overload to Impact: An Industry Scorecard on Big Data Business Challenges”.

The report also demonstrates the challenges that health care organizations face in managing their rapidly growing information stores and their approach to addressing this issue, including deploying industry-specific and analytical applications that help them glean insight and put timely information in the hands of line-of-business personnel when and where they need it.
Despite EHRs being a top priority for health care organizations, they’re struggling to make use of the data from the health records.

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