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A Big Data Problem in Healthcare & How to Solve It


Data is flooding into the healthcare industry from a myriad of sources–e.g. electronic medical and health records, insurance claims, clinical research studies, social determinants and the vastly growing Internet of Things network. Healthcare organizations are finding it a great challenge to manage their data, especially within an industry of ever-increasing complexity. Indeed, the sheer amount of data alone can seem overwhelming. But, as is the case with information, the amount of data is not the problem. Author David Allen joked, “If it was, you’d walk into a library and die. The first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up, and merely browsing a newspaper would make you a nervous wreck.”

Cost of Data Decay

It’s not the sheer volume of data–but the quality of it–that is a big data problem in healthcare. Poor quality data in hospitals leads to billing and medical errors, in addition to dangerous and costly duplicate patient records. Health insurance companies are also affected, losing millions of dollars each year due to poor healthcare data quality in highly critical processes such as claims, pricing, billing and member churn.

Data with a Purpose

The good news about the explosion of big data in healthcare is that it is forcing knowledge workers to square their shoulders to the challenge of defining what it is they are trying to accomplish. Collecting vast amounts of data and hoping that it will one day prove fruitful will keep you busy, but busy is not the end goal. You will just end up with a lot of expensive and useless data. That is, unless you dedicate time and energy into the your data analytics strategy, beginning with the aim of adding business value. This will allow you to better understand what questions you would like to have answered and will allow you to better navigate massive datasets to identify data that is relevant to collect and analyze. This will vastly improve your data quality. Focusing on business value first will also guide your decisions in choosing your analytics talent and cloud strategy.

The big data problem in healthcare is not necessarily the amount but rather the harder to quantify quality of it. The solution is to develop a strategy that is rooted in producing real business value and then building an analytics capability for the task at hand. Reach out to Amitech if you would like to know more about how we approach building data analytic strategies for our clients. 

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