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How Big Data is Changing Small Healthcare Businesses

Healthcare industry has always competed to provide immediate and affordable care for patients. The more data you have about a problem, a better solution can be built. This logic has led to the development of big data, and the advantages it provides for businesses of all industries.

With technological advancements, and the ability to generate real-time information, data has seen huge advances. This has made businesses more efficient and productive in just the last decade alone. At its core, big data is simply the ability to collect and analyze data on a large scale. This modern take on old fashioned data analysis is used by almost all industries in the US, from retail to healthcare.

Big Data in the Healthcare Industry

In healthcare, the rise of value-based care and the digitization of healthcare information has led the industry to use big data for strategic decision making. Big data has proven promising in; health care research for drug discovery, treatment innovation, and optimal patient care to reduce patient costs and improve outcomes. In fact, big data in healthcare is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2025.

In comparison, other industries are expected to see growth rates between 25%-30%. According to an International Data Corporation report from Seagate Technology, healthcare providers are optimizing the greater intelligence built into diagnostic equipment and patient devices to collect patient data. This is uploaded to the cloud and transferred to a common data center for analysis. The analysis is then sent back to the service care provider, to take appropriate action.  

Sources of Big Data in Healthcare

There are several sources where data for the healthcare industry comes from. These include: electronic health records, medical imaging, genomic sequencing, pharmaceutical research, payer records, wearable devices etc. Big data is distinguished from old-fashioned data by the high volume, the veracity of data available, the velocity of data and its variety. These are known as the 4V’s of big data.

Applications of Big Data in Healthcare

  1. Diagnostics: Causes of illness can be determined with enough patient data
  2. Precision Medicine: Hyper-personalized care can be leveraged with aggregated data
  3. Preventive Medicine: Analysis of lifestyle, genetic and social factors can predict the onset of diseases
  4. Medical Research: Data-driven research can help medical professionals cure diseases and help discover new treatments and medicines
  5. Reduction of Adverse Medication: Spot medication errors and identify potential adverse reactions with data
  6. Cost Reduction: Faster diagnosis and treatment can reduce patient costs, making you their first choice for care.
  7. Population Health: Identify disease trends and health strategies based on socio-economic status, demographics and geography

How Small Healthcare Businesses can use Big Data

Lessons to be Learned

As a small business owner, it may not seem feasible to collect and analyze big data on the same scale as large healthcare businesses. However, the adoption of big data by larger companies does illuminate what small business owners can do to make smarter business decisions. Big businesses may be able to support a team of full-time data scientists to analyze the data of hundreds or thousands of patients.

Small businesses, however, can achieve their own goals through experimentation and analyzing their own data. While large data can provide you with more certainty, it can also cause unnecessary complexity. What’s important is to use whatever data is at your disposal.

Test & Experiment

The first step is to gather your data. Then, identify what problems your data can answer. As a business owner, think critically about who your customers are, the products and services you sell, and the goals you hope to achieve. Secondly, raise hypotheses and test ideas with experiments and observations.

This is similar to big data practices and can help you discover new insights. Big data promises to drive the industry forward for all healthcare businesses. It will require stakeholders, providers, payers, pharmaceutical producers, policymakers and the scientific community to innovate and reinvent system performance.

As long as privacy and security are maintained, the good that can come from data analysis far outweighs the bad. Data-driven healthcare can offer a global benefit to medical research for preventive, personalized and quick care. Although there are several big data companies like Redox and Apixio that partner with businesses to help collect and analyze data, you can even hire one or two employees trained in data analytics to help you. Data is a must for all businesses. If you need to hire staff or partner with a data company, a small business financing option can help your business take the step it needs to compete.

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