By Christine Kern, contributing writer
How Big Data can help further medical research, find new cures, and prevent diseases.
Big Data has huge potential in medical research. Being able to analyze, understand, and present Big Data could produce huge breakthroughs in medical research, possibly curing and preventing major diseases. A Frost & Sullivan report found strong opportunities exist for Big Data in healthcare via population health management, clinical decision support, and the use of real-world data. In fact, the study suggests, solutions that directly impact care delivery and outcomes will be the focus over the next five years.
Julie Skeen, Healthcare IT Strategist at Infogix, provided some insights into the power of predictive models for healthcare research. In an email to Health IT Outcomes, she explained, ““Big Data may not by itself be able to cure cancer or AIDS, but by applying analytics to human DNA and the DNA of major diseases is already producing positive results for patients. By looking at Big Data, medical researchers can help patients get the best treatment for the type of disease they have, minimize the negative impact of those treatments and in the end save lives.”
Predictive analytics allows researchers to harness the power of Big Data to find new cures and preventive measures for some of the greatest population health challenges. But leveraging Big Data also means paying attention to data governance.
“Globally, healthcare is moving towards value-based, preventive models of care, albeit at varying degrees across countries,” said Transformational Health Research Analyst Natasha Gulati. “In the next five years, a number of countries in Europe and Asia-Pacific will adopt care models that reward clinicians for improving long-term patient outcomes, particularly for chronic diseases, rather than volume of care delivered. This change in key performance indicators will necessitate better data aggregation, analytics, and compliance from clinicians.
“The value of health data lies in meaningfully integrating and analyzing structured and unstructured health data so that it helps clinicians develop unprecedented approaches and solutions to real-world problems.”
Skeen added, “Big Data can also be used to minimize or stop the impact of epidemics like the Zika Virus. The combination of Big Data and advanced analytics can predict where epidemics will strike. It can also accelerate the development of new drugs, stopping epidemics before they become widespread.”
From treatment protocols to prevention, Big Data can help healthcare achieve better patient outcomes and thus improve the efficiency and scale of our healthcare system.
“Using predictive models can look at past data to learn which cause-and-effect relationships will drive future events,” explained Skeen. This can help with predicting the best course of treatment for patients, searching for drug candidates, administering hypothetical tests and examining drug viability. It can also help with predicting the spread of diseases so medical professionals can stay one step ahead.
“Predictive models can use Big Data to predict who is most likely to develop which disease, enabling proactive intervention to minimize disease when it is still easy to arrest.”