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3 big changes that big data can bring to healthcare

Rachel Wheeler

July 15, 2013

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While professionals in every field must do more to ensure data quality, taking the information at their fingertips and working to purify it as much as possible, this endeavor is more important than ever in healthcare. If they're working with the best possible data, medical professionals have the ability to save lives.

Forbes says that while healthcare professionals are making significant strides with their use of data, they're still looking to improve further. Henry Johnson, vice president and medical director at Midas Solutions, writes that more benefits can still be uncovered. He says that when talking to clients about big data analytics, he finds that everything boils down to one question: "How can hospitals wade through a sea of information about patients and practices to find the best value?"

In fact, there are a few ways. Here's what big data can do to transform the way firms provide healthcare.

Make care more affordable
By gathering more information on consumers and the status of their health insurance, companies can craft better strategies for providing individuals and their families with better plans. How much coverage do they need? How much can they afford to pay each month? Data analysis can help find the answers to these questions and more, but the movement must begin with higher levels of quality.

Ensure patient safety
Healthcare firms must look to several strategies that can improve patient safety. First of all, they should analyze the specific ways that doctors treat patients, assessing the performance of physicians based on their results. There's more to it than that, though - firms can also look to reduce their readmission rates by monitoring problem patients in-home after treatments are complete. Patient safety is a never-ending priority, and data quality will help firms keep an eye on it long-term.

Improve legal compliance
Healthcare is tricky because physicians and insurance companies face nonstop pressure to adhere to local, state and federal regulations. There are an impossibly large number of restrictions on the ways doctors can provide care, and even the slightest miscue could lead to a lawsuit. More data analysis can help healthcare providers avoid costly mistakes.

According to Johnson, the big data era has arrived in healthcare. Analytics are helping health firms increase the value they provide to patients while also improving their internal processes.

If this is true, we may see significant improvement in all three of the above areas in the years to come. Stay tuned.

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