Big implications of Big Data in healthcare

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  • Big Implications of

    Big Data in Healthcare

    This white paper offers a detailed perspective on how big data is impacting the healthcare industry and its underlying implication on the industry as a whole. It outlines the role of big data in healthcare, its benefits, core components and challenges faced by the healthcare sector towards full-fledged adoption & implementation.


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  • Big Implications of

    Big Data in Healthcare


    Introduction 01

    Big Data in Healthcare 02

    Role of Big Data in Healthcare 03

    Four Vs of Big Data in Healthcare 04

    Big Benefits of Big Data in Healthcare 06

    Challenges for Big Data in Healthcare 08

  • Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    IntroductionOver the last decade, tremendous progress has been witnessed in the volumes of data that is generated each day through various activities. The capacity of people in harnessing technology to collect, evaluate and under-stand such data has also increased substantially. The propensity of these trends to intersect with each other has come to be termed as Big Data. Needless to say, big data has emerged to be critically important to businesses across diverse industrial sectors by enabling them to enhance their eciency and augment their productivity. The idea that big data plays a vital role in making the world a better place may seem farfetched but, it is true. Evidence can be found in the way big data is being utilized in the healthcare sector.

    Healthcare is one of the sectors that has immensely benetted from big data. Other than enhancing eciency and increasing productivity, big data in healthcare is being eectively utilized to anticipate potential epidemics, alleviate disease, enhance life expectancy and evade preventable deaths. While population continues to grow and with increased life spans, changes have been witnessed in treatment methodologies. However, it is worth-while to note that the changes have been largely data driven. The challenge here is to get a better understand-ing about patients health as early as possible. This is necessary to pinpoint any serious illness a patient may have, early on. Identifying a life threatening illness at an early stage enables healthcare professionals to treat and manage the ailment with relative ease as compared to the condition being diagnosed at a much later stage. This is made possible by assessing and analyzing big data.

    However, the diverse nature of the data collection community renders the process of extracting and integrating data thoroughly challenging. Every individual stakeholder such as healthcare providers, employers, disease management organizations, payers, wellness institutions, genetic testing organizations and patients, collects data. This has led to path breaking eorts that are spurred by strategic partnerships amongst medical and data professionals. This presents an immense opportunity to look into the future and pinpoint potential challenges before they actually present themselves. Big data from diverse sources viz., genetic records, medical and insurance records, data from social media and wearable sensors are eectively harnessed to outline a detailed picture of the patient and oer a customized healthcare solution.

    Predictive analytics has been tactically deployed within big data to derive innovative insights. Apart from the routine clinical and administrative data, amalgamating new data derived from patients pertaining to their health records helps to anticipate ailments and oer timely intervention to patients. Anticipating underlying health issues enables healthcare provid-ers to oer preventive remedies to counteract the eects of such issues. All this is possible by collecting, analyzing and understanding big data.

  • 01

    Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    Big Data in HealthcareSo what constitutes big data? A 2012 report outlines big data as huge quantities of intricate, high velocity and variable data that warrants innovative techniques and technologies to facilitate the acquisition, storage, distri-bution, management and analysis of information in a cohesive manner. Big data displays characteristics such as variety, velocity, volume and a feature that is particularly visible in the healthcare sector - veracity. Together they are known as the 4Vs of big data in healthcare. Prevailing analytical methods are applicable to the large amount of unanalyzed data pertaining to health and medical records of patients to arrive at resourceful insights that can be intrinsically applied to treatment methodologies. Preferably, available medical data can be analyzed to provide appropriate information to care givers which can then be utilized by them to streamline treatment procedures for a specic patient.

    According to (Raghupathi & Viju, 2014) the volume of data in healthcare is projected to grow sizably in the coming years. Moreover, a shift has been observed in models of healthcare refund wherein, signicant use and payment for performance occupy crucial importance in the current day healthcare environment. Though the motivating factor here is not prot, it is vital that healthcare organizations obtain necessary tools, techniques and infrastructure to eectively leverage big data or they stand to lose millions in revenue and prots.

    At present the healthcare sector is facing a digital revolution. Volume of data is now shifting from primary science to genomics that are clinically based and personalized medicine. Big data is evolving non-stop in the healthcare sector both at a personal and large scale levels (Issa, Byers, & Dakshanamurthy, 2014). As a matter of fact, clinical phenotypes are now being biochemically and quantitatively expressed by utilizing proteomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics. Accumulating and analyzing big data is set to emerge as a core factor that drives innovation in healthcare. New developments in big data analytics has major implications not just on healthcare delivery from a patient and care providers perspective but it will also prove to be critical in restruc-turing biomedical discovery. For instance, a single human genome was decoded in a decade initially, however, with the advent of big data, a human genome can now be decoded within a week by utilizing modern DNA sequencing and informatics approaches. Big data is now being applied in healthcare in an all inclusive manner such that it encompasses:-

  • Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    Role of Big Data in Healthcare

    Clinical Discovery

    Systems Medicine & Pharmacology

    Toxicity Prediction

    Electronic Medical Records

    Loosely structured patient related data is being generated by healthcare monitoring systems from various sensors over a period of time. Such healthcare monitoring systems are intricate and demand the need for eec-tive algorithms and computational prowess to process and analyze the raw data. Big data in healthcare can be termed as data that has been derived from various sensors that encompasses medical, trac and social data (Augustine, 2014).

    Big data analysis infrastructure in healthcare can be developed by putting in place a robust mechanism that is required to accumulate, organize and process data with an objective to derive useful information. This facet can be attributed as data acquisition, data organization and data processing. Acquiring the data can prove to be a key challenge in a big data environment. Since healthcare monitoring systems deal with large quantities of data, a low latency is needed in data capturing while simple query methods can be implemented to process a huge quantity of data.


    Objective of applying Big Data Analytics in Healthcare

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    Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    Four Vs of Big Data in Healthcare

    Reduce cost

    Reduce time

    Develop new research

    Optimize decision making

    As data in healthcare is available in large quantities, it is necessary for the healthcare monitoring system to assimilate and process existing data from the primary location where it is stored. This is easily facilitated by Apache Hadoop software that oers a unique technology to process huge quantities of data and also enables the data to be kept in original data clusters. Moreover, it is essential that the data in big data be processed in a distributed environment. Analysis of medical information merits the need for deploying a statistical and mining approach. Delivery of analyzed data within a comparatively faster turnaround time assumes high priority in such a scenario. The amalgamation of data pertaining to patients, data pertaining to eects of drugs, research and development data, nancial data and medical data by healthcare organizations, can be instrumental in deter-mining existing patterns that lead to providing proactive and improved healthcare solutions. Further, in the chance that healthcare organizations integrate patient-centric data in tandem with data derived from social media within their data management systems, they stand to gain an inclusive insight into the correlation between such data. The primary idea of infusing big data in healthcare is to enable the industry to acquire data from any relevant source, support the data thus collected and analyze it to arrive at conclusions that enable them to:-

    One billion smart phones and three billion IP enabled devices are expected to enter service in the coming three years. Remote health monitoring devices would be used by approximately around 4.9 million patients. In addi-tion, around three million patients would be using a remote monitoring device by means of a smart phone hub. Healthcare and medical app downloads are projected at 142 million. In 2012 alone, healthcare had generated around 500 petabytes of data. This gure in 2020 is projected to grow to 25000 petabytes. Summing it in short, it can be conclusively said that big data is poised to emerge as the buzzword for the next generation. Data that supersedes the processing capability of traditional data management systems is termed as big data. Big data displays tendencies where the data is rather large, fast paced and doesnt conform to the existing database architecture. Big data in healthcare has four prominent dimensions which are generally referred as four Vs viz., volume, variety, velocity and veracity. Volume in this context refers to data in terabytes and zettabytes, variety would refer to unstructured, semi-structured and structured data, velocity would refer to batch processing to real-time streaming of data and lastly veracity would relate to quality and relevance of data. Applicability of each of these dimensions to healthcare data is discussed below in detail (Sreekanth, RR, & Arvind Kumar, 2014).

  • Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    Data volumes globally, are witnessing an exponential growth. However, growth of data in healthcare is aug-mented by digitizing existing data and through new data generation. Existing healthcare data that is over-whelming to say the least encompasses individual medical records, clinical trial data, radiology images, popula-tion data, human genetics, genomic sequences and FDA submissions. The growth of data in healthcare is also being spurred by new forms of big byte data that relates to 3D imaging, biometric sensor readings and genom-ics.






    Data at Rest

    TB & ZB of data to process

    Data in Motion

    Streaming Data

    Data in many forms

    Structured, Unstructured

    Data in Doubt

    Uncertainty due to data ambiguity


    An aspect that renders healthcare data as interesting and challenging is the existence of a large variety of data, either in unstructured, semi-structured or structured formats. Since ages, point of care has a tendency to gener-ate data that is largely unstructured. Data in this case would refer to medical records, handwritten notes by doctors and nurses, doctors prescriptions on paper, admission and discharge records in hospitals, radiograph lms, CT scan, MRI and other relevant images etc. Structured data is comparatively easy to store, query, recall, analyze and can be manipulated by machines. Structured and semi-structured data encapsulates data pertain-ing to electronic health records, e-accounting and billing, actuarial and clinical data to some extent and readings of laboratory instruments.


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    Big Implications of Big Data in Healthcare



    Big Benets of Big Data in Healthcare

    The rate at which new data is being generated presents a unique challenge to healthcare organizations. While volume and variety of data that has been accumulated and stored has changed considerably, likewise, the veloc-ity and speed necessary to recover, compare, compute and analyze healthcare data to make strategic decisions has also changed. The situation has witnessed a remarkable transition from sluggish batch processed data han-dling to real-time data processing. Nowadays, data velocity can be crucial in some medical scenarios where real-time data can be instrumental in life and death situations.


    Issues in data quality are of critical concern in the healthcare sector owing to two causes; 1. Decisions in life and death situations hinge largely on access to accurate data. 2. Data in healthcare, especially related to unstruc-tured data is largely variable and presents a scope for error, for instance, handwritten prescriptions that are unreadable. Data veracity in healthcare is confronted with the same challenges as nancial data, more so when it concerns payers; veracity in terms of whether it is the right patient, payer, hospital, reimbursement code etc. Veracity issues could further relate to questions such as; whether prescriptions, diagnoses, procedures and outcomes are accurately captured.


    Diverse healthcare organizations be it small single doctor clinics, large hospital networks, multi provider groups, and organizations oering advanced and inclusive care, stand to derive maximum benets by digitizing, com-bining and adopting big data analytics within their operational systems. Some of the benets to healthcare organizations would relate to an enhanced ability to detect complex diseases during their initial stages which is imperative for eective and successful treatment. It also facilitates healthcare organizations to provide custom-ized treatment plans to specic individuals based on their preferences. Oering treatment for lifestyle related diseases by intrinsically analyzing data pertaining to lifestyle patterns of patients. In addition, big data also facili-tates healthcare org...