It’s no surprise that more pundits are starting to sing about big data and health care sittin’ in a tree — after all, the health care industry generates huge volumes of data, much of it unstructured. A blogger in today’s Wall Street Journal proclaims health care is the next frontier for big data, suggesting that physicians might be able to make better clinical decisions if they had access to a larger volume of medical data.
Other pundits feel that health care is underserved by big data, but game changers such as patients armed with smartphones and health care providers armed with tablets could speed things along. One physician blogger predicts that big data will become king in health care this year, kicking patient privacy to the curb.
It’s also possible that big data is just a buzzword, getting hyped by marketers and vendors that stand to gain by helping customers shuffle around huge amounts of data they may or may not really need.
But health care could be one industry that really would stand to benefit from big data analytics. Harnessing the ability to manage large data sets could reduce US health care expenditure by about 8%, according to a report published this year by the McKinsey Global Institute.
If there’s one thing the health care industry doesn’t need right now, it’s hype. Hopefully all this talk about big data in health care will lead to real improvements, and not just produce more snake oil.