Big Data is data stored in a digital enterprise system and collects a huge amount of information across numerous data sources. Knowing where to get data and how to manage it is the first step. Since all of this data involves patients, it must be HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant. Next comes creating greater accessibility and improved sharing to accelerate the pace of research. These are some challenges that come in this era of digitization. Health care institutions must compete with huge companies like Facebook and Google to attract workers who can effectively work with large volumes of data to extract business and clinical intelligence.
The intelligent collection and interrogation of healthcare data are key to improving health outcomes. One new source of data come from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) which has launched a new Data Centre of Virtual Research. This data center provides researchers with complete real-time access to Medicare data; no more waiting for CMS to provide this data.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have also made the research process faster. The cost of research has been reduced due to the digitization of patient records. Earlier patient data resided on paper, limiting sharing and analysis; there was also a great risk of data being lost, not to mention unwieldy. Now with the advent of EHRs, healthcare can be improved by data faster analysis and quality checks made on input, (e.g. drug/drug interactions, handwriting misinterpretations, etc.) The more researchers and health providers can analyze and access large amounts of data, the more healthcare can be monitored, analyzed and improved.
Analytic tools are constantly being upgraded and introduced through which data are analyzed; for example the geographic locations of various diseases can be accurately pinpointed through the examination of real time medical claims data. EHR data can also provide information that can aid in the management of individual patients. Diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions can be monitored and treatment protocols adjusted accordingly.
Mining healthcare data is a valuable tool for improving health and reducing costs, however there is still much to be done. Obstacles like privacy and security that interfere with data sharing still need to be addressed in order to advance the use of healthcare big data.