3 reasons to be optimistic that data can improve healthcare

Despite all the promise for big data to improve care and cut costs, implementing an effective strategy can be pretty overwhelming, concedes Irfan Khan, senior vice president and chief technology officer at SAP Database and Technology.

He sees reasons for optimism that healthcare will improve for individuals, however. Among them, he points out in a post at GigaOm:

  • Healthcare organizations are amassing as much data as possible to focus on developing proper treatments.
  • Evidence-based medicine is replacing what he calls "cookbook style" diagnosis--and increasingly treatment is personalized to the patient.
  • With smartphones, patients can monitor their health data themselves and at much lower cost than in the past.

A standard EKG machine gathers about 1,000 data points per second and a two-dimensional mammogram requires 120 MB for each image, he notes, requiring healthcare organizations to have the storage, processing and networking infrastructure to handle reams of data effectively. Innovations in speed and options such as cloud storage are easing the way.

Brian Dixon, assistant professor of health informatics at Indiana University and research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute recently wrote that healthcare is moving beyond the days of merely hunting and gathering data to one in which troves of data can be mined for their treasure.

He pointed to standards such as LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) and SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine--Clinical Terms)--healthcare terminologies to be linked in a new collaboration--natural language processing and tools such as the Notifiable Condition Detector to harness data for research--not just store it for regulatory purposes.

In addition to devices, the market for mobile healthcare services is expected to reach $26 billion worldwide by 2017 as smartphone apps enable the mHealth industry to monetize these services.

To learn more:
-read the GigaOm post

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