For anyone who doesn’t know what big data is, you’d better get caught up quickly, because it is the direction many industries and companies within large industries are headed. A basic definition, as stated in a Forbes articles defines big data as: “…a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside [a] company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.” So, how do mainstream industries use big data compared to how the healthcare industry uses it?
Big data is the means by which business practices can truly measure what is happening at every level and department in the organization. The ability to measure provides a fundamental understanding, which leads to better and more accurate decisions. Within the retail market, this kind of familiarity leads to enhanced responses to customers’ wants and needs in a timelier manner than traditionally discovered with analytics.
This is much the same when looking at big data in healthcare: measuring the positive results with patients, working to raise patient satisfaction levels, and meeting/exceeding resolutions to departmental budget shortcomings become transparent. When you have knowledge about what needs to change, you can thus make the changes necessary, and provide a better care environment for patients.
Many companies seek to understand actions their customers take, especially while on the internet. This does not simply tie a customer to his or her purchases, but also includes other items they clicked on, the different pages visited on the website and promotions or reviews that may have influenced their navigations throughout. With this data and the firm understanding of what the customers may be looking for, a company can then offer advertising directed specifically for each customer. Much of this individualized attention happens in real-time while the consumer is still online.
The concept of real-time assessment is happening more and more in a healthcare situation: doctors have access to a patient’s electronic health record (EHR), which provides a comprehensive explanation as to what the patient has been through. Being able to coordinate current care with previous events will better ensure that adverse events are avoided. Customer actions aren’t followed by clicks, but by visits within a healthcare organization, and include all medical notations. Doctors are then able to present the most advantageous approach to helping the patient.
Technology is moving ahead at breakneck speed for every industry. Data systems and analytics that were sufficient and may have been considered cutting edge five years ago are now far from adequate for the amount of data being collected or the demand for that data to be utilized to promote customer experiences. The need to have ample room to store and access the data means moving up to a database or in many cases a data warehouse. Additionally, software to manage the data is part of the package required to handle all the information that is being saved.
One of the largest industries for data production is healthcare. We are all contributing to the growing knowledge base within a healthcare system, and that information is substantial. When you think about the different kinds of data that is being gathered, you might begin to understand the sheer depth of fact and images that stored. Most of the data comes in three different forms:
- Billing and clinical transactions
- Digital capture of diagnostic images
- Documentation and notations
Obviously, the type of data being stored and accessed is quite different between most businesses and a healthcare organization. However, the amount of information being generated can be considered comparable to these other fields and in some respects must be managed much more securely due to the fact that personal, medical and financial information is being cached.
Although healthcare requires a different type of big data system, the fact that big data is a key component to helping care specialists improve medical treatment and to do so in a timelier and more efficient manner shows that both business and healthcare benefit from rendered information uncovered. Big data is a broad-spectrum word that has many implications in any field to which it is applied.