It’s well known big data in healthcare can offer researchers, physicians, and patients a wealth of insights, but is that its only use? Some experts suggest big data may be an instrumental part of facilitating faster researcher projects and creating better medicine, but just how feasible is that goal? Probably more than you realize.
What Is Big Data?
Big data refers to the massive amount of information collected across the internet. In healthcare IT, big data includes sources such as internet patient forums, social media platforms, internet search patterns for symptoms, and so on. Most sources of big data in healthcare are internal and are still very often collected from pen and paper forms, such as those filled out during patient registration.
What Are the Advantages of Big Data?
By itself, healthcare big data is a large, exceedingly complex system of information which exists as a byproduct of health services and technology. To create meaningful insights or locate important patterns, big data must be analyzed and assigned meaning through an intelligent operator. This operator may be a trained data analyst, the product of machine learning, or a member of an organization’s healthcare IT department. Presently, big data is typically used in higher academia settings and research studies – but its benefits can reach much further than that.
One of the more pertinent advantages to big data in healthcare is its ability to create stronger networks between geographically distant entities. Often, cities have a limited number of specialists and some regions may have widely spread out patient populations. By combining datasets from specialists, analysts may be able to unearth new risk factors, new treatment trends, or potential common denominators that would not otherwise be obvious without the same encompassing scope.
Dropout rate in clinical trials can cripple otherwise promising studies. While lowering the dropout rate isn’t enough to guarantee better or faster trials, it can play a crucial part in delivering stronger results. Likewise, recruitment is often a bane to clinical trials, but some experts believe this may not be due to a lack of patient motivation, but rather the result of recruiters being unable to reach the right patients.
Fortunately, big data in healthcare can provide the facilitation necessary for recruiters and patients to reach each other. The chief advantage of big data in clinical trials is its ability to field a vast pool of patients for necessary inclusion criteria as well as potentially reveal motivations and challenges the target population might face. When researchers gain this level of insight through in depth analytics, they’re more likely to identify issues in study design and have the tools necessary to create solutions tailored for their patient population.
Vast Opportunities, Endless Possibilities
Creating stronger networks between physicians and strengthening clinical trials from design to implementation are just the tip of the potential iceberg for big data in healthcare. Although there are many challenges presented for healthcare IT when it comes to big data, the advantages offered could potentially drive costs down, increase care quality, and create better, more well-rounded healthcare for all.