How is Big Data Being Used in the Healthcare Industry?


FitBit, the Apple watch and the emergence of electronic health records have brought the role of big data storming into the healthcare industry, allowing providers to gain more insight into their patients and companies than they’ve ever had before.

Big data is defined as:


  • Volume – measured by the terabyte
  • Variety – sleep tracking, hospital re-admissions, efficiency in process
  • Velocity – how fast is new data is being generated?
  • Veracity – how accurate are the numbers?
  • Value – how much is this data worth?

Why is big data important in healthcare?


Improving patient care starts with evaluating the history of the patient, analyzing the data presented to you and then deciding what to do with it. Healthcare is more and more becoming an information science.


Having a huge amount of aggregate data allows all of an organization’s patients to be pulled into one database and compared, across multiple categories. The c-suite can use this information to make choices that are backed up by actual data. Big data removes the guesswork.


How can the c-suite leverage big data in the healthcare industry?


C-suite leadership generally has 2 reactions when confronted with the words, “big data.”


  1. Include the report in the cost of the systems collecting the data.
  2. What do I do with this?


Previously, big data was available for a steep fee. Now, accessing this information is almost an expectation of executives, and not always a viable option. It requires a sophisticated staff to use and analyze. But these leaders know the information big data provides is crucial to their success.


For example, this article shows how $2 billion is wasted in the employer-based health insurance industry due to preventable gaps and how analyzing big data fills the hole. If you were the CEO at one of these organizations, wouldn’t you want access to this kind of data?


Having comparative population health research at their fingertips gives c-suite executives an opportunity to really dive into their community’s pain points and find ways to address issues head-on. A hospital CEO may use big data to examine readmission statistics because early hospital readmission significantly negatively impacts insurance reimbursements. Finding out why patients are being discharged and then returning to the hospital is a great way to reduce loss by preventing lower reimbursements.


Other information big data can give us:


  • Which doctors are admitting the most patients?
  • How long does it take to triage a patient?
  • Which doctors are costing the provider the most money?
  • Which patient populations cost the payer the most money?
  • Which geographic locations do we work best in?


Clearly, having a huge cache of information raises the question, “How much is the data worth?” And if its worth can be measured, then so can the exponential values of its worth and its practical applications to the business.


Reeder & Associates thinks understanding the role big data has on healthcare is a major selling feature on a c-suite executive. Let us know what you think the other benefits are to big data in healthcare. Contact us or call 770-649-7523.


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