Healthcare big data is only in its terrible twos

Hospitals must more effectively gather and analyze their existing data, speakers at the Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum said.
By Tom Sullivan
02:54 PM
Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum

SAN FRANCISCO — Hospitals need to move from a lagging reactive traditional business intelligence and statistics stance into a leading proactive analytics approach. Put another way: It’s time for the industry to grow up.

“Big data has moved on from infancy. It’s in the terrible twos right now,” Sameer Badlani, MD, CHIO of Sutter Health said at the Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum on Monday. “We’re still trying to figure out what to do with it.”

There’s big potential there. Gurmeet Sran, MD, medical director of health analytics and data science at ‎Dignity Health, for instance, said that Dignity has a Hadoop big data infrastructure and sees considerable opportunity for simple data aggregations, such as small data that can be pivoted inside an Excel file.

“We built a tool called Global Patient Search that allows us to query in our cohort: is that a problem that’s big enough?” Sran said.

As part of Dignity’s big data stack, Global Patient Search enables them to better understand whether or not that particular problem has enterprise value and is worth pursuing beyond that discovery phase.

That is just one example of many that will leverage data and to help mature big data as healthcare is changing, as technology has reached the point where people can learn from analytics, Sran said. 

“Tech is the enabler, but it’s people and process that improve care. If you cannot embed it into the complex workflows of healthcare, it won’t help anyone.”

Leonard D’Avolio, CEO of Cyft, added that technology is the enabler but people and process are what actually improve care. Not embedding big data and analytics tools into healthcare’s complex workflows won’t help anyone.

“The innovations will be the result of finally gathering our data,” D’Avolio said. “Data will be healthcare’s next great breakthrough.”

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