The Future of Health Care Data Analytics

With detailed information from electronic medical records increasingly available in the cloud, health care tasks are more and more found online. By detecting the early symptoms of a virus as an example, that great body of information will make it easy for doctors and their patients to prevent illness. While the technology is in its early development stages, understanding your latest health risks will be less and less of a surprise with data analytics.

In the not too distant future doctors will have access to more and more evidence based information. Physicians are already using massive computers and other high-tech devices to improve health care. As data becomes more readily available, extensive and personalized, it will revolutionize the way doctors diagnose disease and treat patients.

Just look at eCare21, a remote patient-monitoring system that collects pieces of health data about thousands of senior citizens. The telehealth system uses smartphones, Fitbits, Bluetooth and sensors to gather vital information about blood pressure, physical activity, glucose levels, medication intake and weight. The information is then compiled on a dashboard so that the patients’ doctors, loved ones and caregivers can provide proactive care, even from remote locations.

This ocean of data will simply provide better alerts and tailored recommendations for patients and caregivers supported by systems such as IBM Watson, Cloudvara and Hortonworks. As the industry is still in the very early stages, few understand the best way to make sense of the vast amount of data. For now it’s just too difficult to see what the outcome will be given the information is not organized, merely a mixture of structured and unstructured data.

However proponents say when the day comes that we are able to control this information, evidence-based decision support will become easier to access as a result of leveraging big data and analytics. Essentially, health care data analytics will help doctors and hospitals by providing a lot more precise information at the point of care.

Furthermore, the physician-patient relationship will grow with the help of social media and mobile apps. And this all stems from the need for hospitals to keep patients healthy and out of their facilities. Joe Petro, senior vice president of healthcare research and development at Nuance Communications, believes the industry is on the brink of seeing some pretty remarkable things as a result: “In the old days, hospitals made money the sicker you are, and the longer they keep you there, the more they make.” Petro predicts that because of vast analytics, there will be an “explosion” of mobile applications and even social media, allowing patients to have easier access to nurses and physicians. “It’s about keeping [patients] healthy and driving down costs,” he said. “Those are the two major areas where there’s going to be a lot of stuff going on from a health information technology point of view, all underpinned by the availability of data, and tapping into that.”

Health-e reporting with sources: Entrepreneur; Forbes; Health Care IT News

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