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Digital Revolution in Healthcare through Big Data

Authored by Mr. Vikram Thaploo, CEO – TeleHealth at Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited.

It will be a gross understatement to suggest that technology touches our lives in more ways; technology now is the way! Therefore, one can’t be surprised by the sheer number of doctors and medical professionals who swear by its benefits in today’s world. In what seems to be construed as a perfect match, digital technology has taken the role of the ideal catalyst in advancement in healthcare, adding to its achievement in steering us towards a modern, and more importantly, healthier and happier world. 

Market research has shown that big data in healthcare globally is expected to touch $34.7 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 22.07%. The industry is processing over 30 billion transactions a year by producing zettabytes of data taken from EMRs, Medical Imaging, Medical Devices, etc. Much like in many other industries, this tool today is being used to revolutionize healthcare, improve service delivery, structure the research, enhance diagnosis/imaging results, and generate patient data outside clinical context, behavioral data, wellness information, environmental data, & public health data. All of these constitute a patient digital health trial.

Here is how BIG Data is revolutionizing Healthcare: 

Reduction in cost of Healthcare Delivery:

At the industry front, Big Data enabled technology has made life easier for medical personnel by allowing cost-effective methods of testing and diagnosis through online and mobile applications. Its usage is proving to be highly useful in remote healthcare, which helps medical practitioners monitor their patients without necessarily seeing them every day. Remote healthcare cuts the costs needed for being physically available, and regular in-clinic visits save time and energy both on the part of the doctor and patient.

By cutting down on overhead costs, rentals, inventories, etc., remote healthcare enables medical institutions to earn better profits and use the same for extensive medical research.

Focus on prevention of diseases

There is a paradigm shift in the medical community that healthcare management is more inclined towards prevention. Several vaccines have been developed to prevent deadly diseases. The health education system has taught preventive lifestyle measures as the line of defence against modern lifestyle-induced diseases. The digital devices that enable you to keep a regular check on your vitals, use data to push people towards healthier lifestyles are widening possibilities for the prevention of diseases. The same data can be utilized to identify risk factors for the disease at population, subpopulation, and individual levels.

Effectiveness and quality of treatments

Big Data has proven effective in earlier disease intervention, reduced probability of adverse reaction to medicines, and fewer medical errors. It is also helping the healthcare professionals and researchers to derive trend analysis of a particular disease profile and enhance the treatment impact. In the current scenario, 50% of the treatment is determined before patient visits using the data available with the clinician leading to better quality and quicker treatment. The data also helps the caregiver to determine casualties and understand the co-morbidities.

The historical data of a patient plays a crucial role in Big Data. Digitization of patient data makes the system reliable and accessible for immediate use. Critical factors like Genetic disorder and other warning signs can be tested, and health check-up packages can be customized to a patient.

Easing health-related research

Such a wide variety of useful data helps researchers to analyse and hypothesise findings, customized to a community, area, or group of people. The same results can then be related to factors such as air pollution, water-borne diseases, increased use of pesticides, disease transmission pathways, infectious and chronic diseases, etc.  These researches have been conducted in the past but were restricted in numbers. Big Data can bridge this gap and enable researchers to conduct mass surveys and analysis.

The convenience of Service

Convenience experienced by the potential patients and healthcare institutions are the significant benefits of this cutting-edge technology. The access of analysers to pick from available data and provide to the patient-relevant to them in a matter of few minutes is remarkable.

Individuals now can avail consultations with the doctor through mobile applications specifically designed to address their queries as well as connect them to their respective caregiver for test and check-up reminders.

Current Challenges:

The benefits and future of big data appear great, but structural obstacles lie ahead for big data and healthcare. The significant challenges are the technical skills required, the ability to ensure compliance with all security measures, privacy, and patient confidentiality.

Way forward with Big Data in Healthcare:

Way forward for Healthcare is the use of AI/ML backed by Big Data to provide a predictive and analytical approach. AI uses machine learning and can deliver capabilities to predict the future condition of a patient based on early warning signs. It can also determine the best operational management practices and recommend prescriptions based on the treatment of a similar patient. AI/ML requires human intelligence to steer as a partner in patient care. It will need an efficient combination of people, tools, data, and resources to leverage advanced technologies and usher in exciting breakthroughs in inpatient care.

Conclusion:

The leaders can take advantage of AI and Big Data tools to empower care teams and enhance clinical and operational efficiencies. This may seem like a formidable task, but if companies successfully steer this transformation, they will attain a position that will continue to flourish in this digital era.

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