Healthcare Technology

Big Data in Healthcare


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You have probably heard the term "big data" so frequently that you may be confused about what it means. Generally speaking, big data uses massive amounts of data to help people better understand trends, human behavior, or broad-based systems. If appropriately used, big data can help people identify potential problems and find the right solutions.

There are a few areas where big data can be as helpful as in healthcare. Simply put, when deployed correctly, big data can save lives. However, that requires having the appropriate technology and ensuring people understand how to use this tech.

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What is Big Data in Healthcare? 

In a healthcare context, big data can refer to many different things. This includes patient data, such as vital health metrics. This data includes health measurements, lab results, and population-level health data.

  • How an employee performs, including overall efficiency and success in executing specific treatments. By monitoring this information, Big Data can show when employees are doing well and when healthcare facilities may need to take specific steps to improve healthcare performance. In this instance, Big Data can also spot broader trends about employees, such as how long they are working, when they are likely to quit, or specific areas where employees across a system may struggle.
  • Financial information about how a healthcare system is performing. When deployed appropriately, big data can help a system determine overall trends and adjust its finances appropriately. Artificial intelligence can be very useful here: It can help to make customized, specific insights that can improve the overall performance of the healthcare system in question.
  • Trends related to social determinants of health. In this capacity, Big Data can be exceptionally powerful. By gaining access to the right data, electronic health systems can better determine the broader societal causes of healthcare and sickness. This big data can allow a healthcare system to work with other partners to make broad-based improvements to a patient's life.

As you can see, this is a wide swath of information, requiring appropriate technology and processing power to analyze appropriately. Indeed, Big Data is usually understood to refer to data that is so massive that humans cannot be able to review and understand it. Indeed, in many cases, it refers to data trends that a typical computer may not be able to manage either appropriately. It often takes large amounts of processing power to understand Big Data and use it appropriately.

Use of Big Data for Predictive Analysis

One of the more common uses of healthcare data is monitoring what might happen next. When individuals they can understand the data’s story about a patient by reviewing it. But, of course, the predictive power of big data can help a healthcare facility with more than just a patient's performance.

Big Data can monitor countless health-related variables in hospitals and the broader community. By doing so, your healthcare network can better understand trends in upcoming admission rates. This information can allow a network to prepare for a wave of admissions, prepare beds, and ensure that staff is prepared to manage whatever is coming next.

Depending on its size, a healthcare network may deal with millions — or even billions — in daily transactions. Your network can deploy big data to better understand your overall financial picture. If you have the right software, your healthcare network can pull together financial information from your entire network to give deeper insights into your facility's overall financial performance. As a result, you can build more accurate budgets and make better financial decisions. In addition, this information allows you to create more accurate financial products and redeploy your limited staff resources to better and more efficient use.

Finally, you can use Big Data to create customized individual recommendations about staff performance and your system's overall performance. Consider the nearly countless variables that your team members interact with daily: They work with patients, other staff members, and the entire system to try and save as many lives as possible. The sheer swath of data they produce and need can be overwhelming. By working with a system that can manage all of these inputs, Big Data can help create customized and personalized recommendations for predictive analysis. In many ways, you can use Big Data to keep your patients and staff at the forefront of your operations. Since you can use Big Data to create individualized recommendations, you can better serve your patients.

Big Data and Real-Time Alerts

One of the most potent uses of Big Data can be to provide real-time alerts to health care practitioners and management. When deployed properly, this information can instantly alter behavior, thus improving care quality and saving lives.

Big Data can and should be patient-centered. For example, if appropriately used, EHR and ERP information can alert doctors to potential hot spots of infections. You can even use it to give health care facilities a better understanding of when an environmental issue may be at play, causing a wave of sicknesses in a community. By analyzing this information in real-time — and then alerting authorities accordingly — Big Data can help spot problems and give specific recommendations about what resources you can deploy to fix the potential issue.

Of course, back offices can also use these real-time data practices to understand better how to save a healthcare system money and ensure that its delivery of services can continue, even in times of difficulty or turmoil. For example, as any hospital administrator knows, the past few years have seen massive supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With properly configured ERPs, health care administrators can know immediately if there are broad-based problems with their supply chain. From there, they can alter what they order or where they order from. They can also send out alerts to staff, informing them of potential disruptions and giving them alternative steps they may be able to follow.

Privacy Protections and Big Data

One of the most significant challenges with big data in the healthcare world is that the use of the data must remain HIPAA compliant. HIPAA is a federal law that ensures that private medical information is appropriately protected, thus protecting the privacy of individuals your healthcare entities may see. Therefore, any ERP or other computerized system must adequately safeguard patients' privacy.

From an ERP perspective, this means a few things:

  • Only appropriate individuals should be allowed access to information that ties a patient's medical records to the patient.
  • A healthcare organization can sometimes share medical data when separated from an individual. Doing so allows Big Data to be used and analyzed by individuals not directly connected to the patient. However, you must separate patient information and any identifying characteristics. You'll need to ensure that your ERP and EHR software can make this appropriate separation.
  • Any ERP must track and customize who has access to a patient's private medical records. Appropriate monitoring and customization of this access ensure that only the correct individuals can see privileged information.
  • How is your data encrypted or secured, and how is it disaggregated from the individuals in question? These protections are important in any context, but particularly within the healthcare world. Your healthcare network must work with any EHR or ERP provider to appropriately protect data from unauthorized use.

Maximize Big Data with an ERP from Multiview Software

Big data has tremendous potential within the healthcare world. However, it also comes with significant risks, and your healthcare organization must appropriately manage these risks to get the maximum benefit from any ERP. An off-the-shelf product will not suit your needs. Instead, you need a healthcare-specific ERP that can adapt to your healthcare model.

We have years of experience working with healthcare organizations at Multiview Financial Corporation. Contact us today to request a demo and learn more about how Multiview Financial Corporation can help your system thrive.

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