4 recommendations to harness big data

The use of big data in healthcare poses unique challenges, according to a Brookings post that offers four recommendations.

Those challenges include network security, for example, which lags other sectors, including retail, banking and e-commerce. It's difficult to adequately compensate breach victims for loss of privacy. And interoperability remains a vexing problem without a clear solution.

Despite big data's potential to provide better insights and efficiency, it is expensive to maintain these systems and to figure out who pays for it when multiple parties share information.

Authors Darrell West and Niam Yaragh, governance studies experts at Brookings' Center for Technology Innovation, pose four solutions:

  • People-centered systems focused on patients' individual experience can boost chances they will use technology in their real-time decision-making.
  • Models that learn rapidly will speed up the pace of research and more rapidly disseminate insights about ways to improve care..
  • The number of participants and records to analyze matters in health data networks. Stakeholders must create incentives for health care providers to participate and adopt standards of interoperability.
  • Providers must be committed to educating patients about the types of personal data stored in health data systems and about new ones being added. Those systems have to be secure in order to gain patients' confidence.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California cited the scale they could bring to Cal Index, the planned California health information network. Combined, the two payers cover 9 million patients.

Michael Hunt, who serves as both chief medical information officer and chief medical officer at St. Vincent's Health Partners in Bridgeport, Connecticut, one of the health organizations embracing big data, has said his facility focuses on making sure data is timely, actionable, and accurate--and it has seen positive effects on patient care.

To learn more:
- read the Brookings post