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Healthcare Industry Poised to Take Advantage of Big Data

With much progress made on digitizing patient records and pressure mounting to lower costs and improve efficiency and patient care, the healthcare industry this year is poised to take advantage of big data in a big way.

Leveraging big data could result in $300 billion in increased annual value for the industry, according to a 2011 McKinsey report. However, the healthcare industry still lags behind other industries when it comes to using big data to make informed decisions and improve efficiencies.

Healthcare providers face significant obstacles in implementing analytics, business intelligence tools, and data warehousing due to the diversity of health data, according to a 2013 paper by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (IHTT) designed to help executives from hospitals, health systems, and other provider organizations understand how to use big data to reduce costs. The data is fragmented and nonstandardized, coming in a range of formats and generated by a multitude of stakeholders with differing interests, note the authors of “Transforming Health Care through Big Data.” And patient privacy is also paramount.

According to McKinsey, the healthcare big data revolution is still in its early days, and the potential for value creation has not yet been claimed. An evaluation of the marketplace found that more than 200 businesses aimed at leveraging healthcare information have been established since 2010. The McKinsey analysts also note that “stakeholders that are committed to innovation will likely be the first to reap the rewards.”

One of those innovators, Robert Mangel, Director of Service Quality Research for Kaiser Permanente, will be speaking at the IEEE Computer Society’s Rock Stars of Big Data event. Mangel will share his experience in using patient experience analytics to drive organizational decision-making. In his session, “Big Data Analytics: Linking Insights, Actions, and Outcomes to Drive Performance Improvement,” Mangel will discuss a mix of these different opportunities and challenges through a discussion of specific examples in healthcare delivery, and a select set of other short use cases that illustrate the variety of emerging big data analytic efforts.

The California-based Kaiser Permanente, with more than 9 million members, is a recognized pioneer in electronic health records. Its HealthConnect health information system, completed in March 2010 at an estimated cost of $6 billion, securely connects 9 million people to their healthcare teams, their personal health information, and the latest medical knowledge. Kaiser is estimated to have between 26.5 petabytes and 44 petabytes of patient data from its electronic health records alone—the equivalent of 4,400 Libraries of Congress, according to the IHTT.

At Kaiser, Mangel leads a national team that seeks to leverage patient experience analytics to inform strategic and operational decisions. A key focus of his work has been on integrating and analyzing large, disparate data sets to create actionable insights and drive performance improvement. Feedback loops between actions and outcomes are relatively longer and less direct, requiring different “Big Analytic” approaches to clarify and leverage these linkages, said Mangel.

To register for Rock Stars of Big Data, set for 29 October at the Computer History Museum in the Silicon Valley, visit http://www.computer.org/Big-Data. Team discounts are available.

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