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Healthcare's Missing a Big (Data) Opportunity

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, October 11, 2011

Cleveland Clinic's top 10 medical innovations for 2012, released at the annual Medical Innovation Summit last week, included a mix of cool medical devices, new treatment protocols and procedures, and other healthcare technologies that, according to the organization, have significant potential for short-term clinical impact and a high probability of success.

The list includes wearable robotic devices, genetically modified mosquitoes, and medical apps for mobile devices—and one item that's not quite like the others: Harnessing big data to improve healthcare.

"Healthcare data requires advanced technologies to efficiently process it in reasonable time, so organizations can create, collect, search, and share data, while still ensuring privacy," the organization said in a release. "In this way, analytics can be applied to better hospital operations and tracking outcomes for clinical and surgical procedures. It can also be used to benchmark effectiveness-to-cost models."

"Big data"—impossibly large and unwieldy data sets that contain, hidden deep within, a treasure trove of potential for healthcare research and discovery, could have a dramatic impact on efficiency, cost, and quality of healthcare.

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that better use of big data in healthcare could generate an additional $300 billion in long-term value, with approximately two-thirds of that coming from a direct reduction in national healthcare expenditures.

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3 comments on "Healthcare's Missing a Big (Data) Opportunity"


Beth (10/13/2011 at 11:11 AM)
Nearly 200 people gathered in Minneapolis just yesterday to discuss this very topic at the Healthcare Business Intelligence Summit. The day included excellent presentations and lively discussions. Mark your calendar for next year's Summit. More at: www.healthcarebisummit.com

Patricia (10/12/2011 at 11:23 AM)
Big Data[INVALID]making sense of patterns and trends over time in large databases then doing things differently as a result[INVALID]has transformed every industry but healthcare. The way we manufacture precision instruments, shop for shoes online and manage air traffic has changed forever with big data! Farzad Mostashari gets it right when he states that we need a new mindset, not just more complete data. For starters, I'd like to be able to see my year over year cholesterol numbers in a chart[INVALID]and I'll bet my primary care physician would too. This isn't big data but it would indicate a change in mindset. Making sense of trends over time rather than snapshot after snapshot of a condition could bring about improved outcomes at lower cost....Just like what has occurred in other industries.

Jennifer N (10/11/2011 at 3:59 PM)
The government's incentives can help jump-start the movement of this "big data" into electronic form. It's a huge task not only to share medical data but also to transfer such a massive amount of data onto a new platform. But like this article stated, there are so many benefits to sharing and analyzing big data. There is a great article from OptumInsight that presents a good way to look at how to collaborate on the macro level in order to successfully manage population wellness with an IT framework: https://ignite.optuminsight.com/archive/the-power-of-it/