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Big data helps healthcare firms save lives

Richard Jones Archive

There have been countless recent examples in the corporate world of businesses using big data to generate more profits, but effective use of data analytics can do a lot more than just put extra money into executives' pockets. According to State Tech Magazine, public health officials can also use data-driven tools to create a better quality of life for medical patients.

Ted Smith, chief of economic growth and innovation in Louisville, Kentucky, recently wrote for the news source about how big data had a positive effect on medical care in his city. By using clusters of information about patients with respiratory disorders, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Smith and the Louisville municipal government were able to gain a greater understanding about what causes the ailments, how to treat them and how to predict future health complications.

The government began using a new solutions that combines a Bluetooth-enabled asthma inhaler with a GPS transponder, thus keeping an eye on the progress of patients in various locations at all times. The devices sync with patients' smartphones and send data to doctors, nurses and the city government at all times, giving them information they can use in real time.

"The scope is large," Smith said of the initiative. "Citizens using the inhalers need to know how they're doing individually, but they also serve as a gauge for the Louisville community. Physicians can provide better care when they know how well each patient's asthma is controlled. Louisville's public health director knows that access to care and exposure to environmental irritants vary by census tract."

Data quality and health analytics
In order to monitor the status of every patient, public health organizations must be armed with strong data quality tools. They aim to have current, accurate, actionable information on every patient including their locations, their medical histories and their future plans of action. In order to ensure this, officials must take the proper precautions to verify the data they're working with.

According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), transforming healthcare data into meaningful information should be a priority for all consumers as well as the public and private organizations around them. More awareness is needed on this issue, as it could save countless lives in the future.

What's more, Smith explained, data helps patients themselves become more aware of their own medical situations. The more information that's out there, the better educated we all will be about the progress of health technology.