The healthcare IT sector is in the midst of an extremely complex revolution. Departments in the industry have to adopt EHR systems and mobile solutions, while working within the constraints of a limited budget.
"Access to timely, complete, accurate, contextual, and digestible data is the lynchpin for accountable care success," said Cynthia Burghard, research director of accountable care IT Strategies at IDC Health Insights.
Burghard added that within the healthcare industry, decision-makers consider data analysis to be No. 1 on their future investment agenda. With growing volumes of internal information to manage and vast amounts of external data, health professionals are expected to lean more on big data.
The potential advantages of the technology are very similar to the ways it's helped organizations in other industries – predictive analysis, real-time decision-making and measuring cost-efficiency, just to name a few.
A recent survey from IDC revealed that IT professionals are interested in data analysis for:
– Measuring performance management, cited by 64 percent of respondents. This will enable workers to identify which processes are working and which ones need improvement.
– Conducting real-time analysis. For instance, deciding between different courses of treatment can be challenging, so data analysis can help narrow down which one makes the most sense.
– Clinical outcomes, which 64 percent of respondents expressed interest in. Forecasting in general can be extremely beneficial for healthcare professionals, whether that pertains to research, clinical outcomes or which patients are likely to return for additional treatment.
While big data can do all of those things for healthcare agencies, there is another benefit that could make it invaluable to these organizations: saving lives.
"By combining disparate sources of data and analyzing them in real time, government leaders and citizens can turn 'big data' into 'smart data' and gain a much clearer picture of how to save taxpayer dollars and even save lives," said Jennifer Morgan, president of SAP Public Services.
A separate survey from SAP AG and TechAmerica Foundation revealed that big data is rapidly gaining popularity among government IT workers. According to the report, federal tech professionals believe the technology can trim 10 percent off their expenditures, a significant benefit considering most public IT departments are experiencing declining budgets.
In addition, 87 percent of federal and 75 percent of state-level respondents said big data solutions could save a notable number of lives every year.