The buzz around big data has brought health industry watchers and senior decision makers to an astute conclusion – big data is valuable and useful. The McKinsey Global Institute has unveiled that big data is capable of generating $300 billion in value every year, if tapped correctly. It can be a means to reduce the U.S. healthcare expenditure by about 8 percent—a huge number, considering the magnitude of the expenditure.
However, there are certain challenges associated with big data that are holding health insurance carriers from effectively utilizing it. Big data is:
• Huge: The volume of big data is one of the biggest hurdles in its implementation and utilization. It has been estimated that big data is about 152 Exabytes, that’s billions of gigabytes. Furthermore, it is expected to grow exponentially to 40 times its current number by 2020.
• Varied: Big data is varied and disparate. Every source that has added to the big data pool has supplied heterogeneous data and there is no means to coagulate it into a single, usable form. The best way to deal with this variety is to leave as is and tailor a solution that supports a margin for this variety.
• Complex: Imagine combining every data of every patient, his medical history, his ailments, the care administered plus more and throwing it into a pool of data. This connected pool has different layers, all of which are usable. Naturally, the more the layers, the more complex it is.
While the above challenges are daunting, the benefits of implementing big data are worth it. Through simple analysis and handling, insurance carriers and health industry leaders can hope to:
• Improve Patient Care: Big data can help doctors and caregivers establish a central repository of patient cases and conditions encountered across the country. This repository can then function as sample cases for pinpointing problems and defining precise care through technology.
• Reduce Widespread Health Hazards: Through big data analysis, caregivers and organizations can utilize local data from a particular area and use it to predict patterns, like influenza dissemination, localized medical problems, etc. This identification can help insurance carriers, caregivers and doctors in unprecedented ways.
• Check Costs: With a plethora of data available for use, carriers, caregivers and hospitals can devise mechanisms to handle a huge database of known problems and reduce costs in inaccurate treatment, wasted efforts and underutilized care time, thereby reducing variables like readmissions and longer stays.
Obviously, the above benefits outweigh the challenges by a huge margin, making investing in big data analysis essential for stakeholders. Through careful planning, strategies can be put in place for mitigating the challenges and capitalizing on the benefits. For starters, it would be best to take small, calculated steps to achieve the dexterity to coerce big data into a usable form.
• Establish a Central IT Solution: For anything and everything related to big data, the backbone fiber needs to be sturdy enough to sustain deep level operations. Getting an IT solution that is tailored to the needs of your organization would serve as that essential fiber.
• Focus on Simplifying: Since one of the issues with big data analysis is the inherent complexity, a smart countermeasure is simplification. As a senior decision maker in the health insurance domain, your focus should be on simplifying interfacing data. Through dashboards, simplified IT solutions and intuitive system interactions, simplification can be achieved.
• Don’t Compromise Quality: While transforming the way your organization works with healthcare data, have an uncompromising stance toward quality. Quality assurance at all levels would ensure quality processing of big data, thus guaranteeing usable, high quality big data extraction.
Breakthroughs can be achieved in big data usage through smart implementation of these rudimentary strategies across the healthcare industry. Through these primary strategies, we can develop a live network that feeds and absorbs from the big data pool, thus enriching and making it more useful. Once we have that in place, more avenues of big data usability can be explored and used for transcending current generation healthcare IT techniques and processes. Thereby making the healthcare industry adept at utilizing the potential of healthcare IT systems.