What’s Ailing Big Data Adoption In Healthcare?

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 29, 2014

big data healthcare

Healthcare providers are having a tough time exploiting the big data opportunity in their organizations, according to a new study by MeriTalk commissioned by EMC. The study published in Forbes also mentions attitudinal challenges pose the biggest threat to big data adoption in healthcare.

Healthcare is a data-driven sector that can improve trial safety, surveillance, treatments and patient outcomes by leveraging big data. According to the study, healthcare providers say big data will transform patient care. The report notes 63% respondents said big data can help track and manage population health more efficiently and 60% say Big Data analytics will enhance the ability to deliver preventive care. However, the study also shows that very few agencies are ready when it comes to big data  implementation.

Only one in five says their agency is very prepared to work with Big Data. While one third of the companies have invested in IT solutions to optimize data processing, and less than 30% have trained IT professionals to manage and analyze Big Data, says the report.

Attitudinal Challenges

According to the study, the organizational attitudinal changes big data evangelist Dan Wagner writes in an article, apart from the technical hurdles, [healthcare providers] need to [transition] from thinking about people as these kind of bulk segments toward thinking about people as individuals with their own propensities, their own risks that need to be managed carefully with individually deployable communication to help them have better lives. He believes, it’s a very difficult transition, both from a perspective of technology and from a cultural perspective.

Wagner mentions in the Forbes report that in order to successfully exploit big data, organizations need to think differently about how they approach the analytics problem. “Organizations need to start thinking and modeling at the individual level. The technology exists to build individual patient profiles by each major illness or disease area, which should have the ability to build patient models by major disease or illness classification,” he said.

Emerging tech and big data

While emerging technologies such as cloud and mobile are already having a huge impact on big data, as the report states 38% firms are using m-health services, another huge opportunity lies in the machine-to-machine (M2M) devices that can immensely benefit the healthcare segment. Currently 15% of healthcare organizations in the US have implemented M2M technologies but 53% plan to within the next two years.

The report also notes while healthcare firms should overcome security challenges to reap big data benefits, leveraging M2M technologies can reduce the cost of patient care by an average of 48% or even more.

By continuously capturing, monitoring, analyzing, and acting upon individual healthcare data can change the very fabric of how healthcare is administered, monitored, managed and optimized, notes the report. But, Wagner points out most importantly, the organizational and attitudinal approach needs to change as much as the technology.

The study concludes that once companies realize the full potential of Big Data in the healthcare space, they can improve health treatment effectively in a most cost-effective manner that benefits everyone and can even put an end to devastating diseases.