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The goal of big data is to understand the complete patient, not the condition

February 03, 2017
From the January 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

• Market readiness — Indicates the current stage of technological and business development of specific market segments.
• Future industry value — Indicates the level of strategic need that listed market segments will have for big data solutions in 2020.

Parameters constituting the criteria are included in the following chart: The analysis revealed that current big data investments are focused on serving immediate needs of the investing stakeholders, which often makes them siloed and incrementally beneficial, as opposed to investing in a strategic organizational redesign. Health care big data applications in the public domain — initiatives deployed by government agencies for various purposes — are still predominantly in pilot stages.

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On the other hand, big data investments by providers and suppliers show better market readiness as indicated by the larger number of initiatives around the world, types of vendors and currently available solutions. While big data investments in clinical research are important, they will be overshadowed by the need for the health care industry to show actual improvements in quality of life, and all industries will eventually move toward generating actionable insights from health care big data.

This brings us to the aforementioned evolution of knowledge in health care. Data generated in health care from medical records, “omics” research, health and wellness devices, clinical trials, transactions and web and social media are used for understanding health and disease better with the goal of finding a cure. Ten years from now, the industry will truly move toward predictive and prescriptive care, which allows consumers to wholly understand their physiological conditions and their future impact early.

This requires a far more granular understanding of the consumers themselves, rather than health and disease alone. Industry participants are moving toward intuitive, patient-centric, consumerist health care services, which means they need to understand consumers in terms of their day-to-day behaviors, social habits, personal and emotional preferences, financial obligations and future aspirations. Big data is playing a monumental role in this by enabling value creation from real-world data. Never before has data generated by consumers been so important in health care. Stakeholders are only just opening the Pandora’s box that is the data generated from mobile devices, ubiquitous sensors, interactive web, unstructured behavioral data from blogs and forums and consumer-provided health information in real-world trials. All of this leads to one goal in health care big data — understanding the patient/consumer beyond his or her pathological condition. As a step in the direction of understanding people better, The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study in New Zealand has tracked participants born between 1972-73 since 1985, and has published groundbreaking research in the areas of child health, injury prevention, infertility, drug abuse and psychosis through real-world data. Now, as the subjects enter the final project phase, it will explore aging in detail. Such a study of aging will be unique, in that it will be able to correlate early-stage life incidents with conditions experienced in aging, a complex data research and management exercise powered by big data tools.

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