Care providers and other areas affected by big data in healthcare

This is part of a series exploring big data in healthcare. Each piece will break down an aspect of analytics and where it fits into healthcare needs. This piece focuses on the different areas within healthcare that are affected by big data.

Everyone is talking about big data today. Well, we need to look at

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big data in context of the healthcare market. First, we need to understand the spectrum of healthcare segments and look at each segment and its associated big data components. The following six distinct healthcare segments are all affected by big data:

  1. Life sciences: Bio informatics and the related translational informatics are life science disciplines currently exploiting big data capabilities.
  2. Pharmaceutical: Sales, marketing and research departments of drug development companies are also using big data.
  3. Medical/mobile devices: These are areas of great opportunity for big data. Many device startup companies are currently exploring big data capabilities.
  4. Care providers: They are not currently affected by big data. Access to healthcare data is a big barrier for providers, who are still heavy on fax/paper.
  5. Payers: Few large payers have started to explore big data.
  6. Public health: This has good potential, but is facing the same challenges as care providers.

Patients are not included in the list as they are mostly content generators and consumers who have much to benefit from, but are at the mercy of other segments of the industry.

Care providers are often associated with big data in healthcare, which is completely misleading. Most care providers are conservative and not out-of the-box thinkers. They lack big data skills and do not encourage innovation for many reasons. Moreover, with the exception of few large providers, care providers do not have much data, as most still rely on paper and faxes. Also, electronic health record vendors are closed systems when it comes to accessing the data. Until such barriers are removed, I don't see much growth for big data implementations in the care providers segment.

Continue to the next tip in this series. 

Naeem Hashmi is chief research officer for Information Frameworks, as well as an expert in healthcare data analytics, information management and data exchange. He is an active member of HIMSS, CHIME and AMIA. Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthITon Twitter.

This was first published in April 2013

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