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How Health Care Is Mining, Using Your Data

Did you know there’s new information collected about you, every time you go to the doctor? But what happens to that data after you leave? Roughly 80 percent of collected health data is stored in hundreds of different forms such as lab results, images and medical transcripts, making it virtually useless.

That’s why health-care organizations are leveraging big data technology to capture patient information. The idea is to improve health care through care coordination, population health management and patient engagement and outreach.

Marty Kohn, chief medical scientist for IBM Research and a former ER doctor said, “The U.S. lags most other countries in health care. Our health-care system needs a transformation to compare to those around the world. We need to make it more personalized to make it more efficient and safer.”

Kohn offered three examples of how big data is already transforming patient health care at various organizations.

Data-driven decisions: This is when new evidence, or secondary evidence, is drawn from existing data. Big data can search for patient similarities through thousands of characteristics to help diagnose a problem.

Stream computing: In stream computing, data is not collected and stored. It’s used “near real-time,” or the time minus minimal processing delays.

At The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, for example, every baby in the neo-natal ICU has vitals monitored and can predict an upcoming problem before it happens. Hospital staff will be alerted to a life-threatening infection up to 24 hours earlier than current practices.

Patient Care and Insight: This third use involves predictive data analysis for high-risk patients.

Kohn said using the information around us will help doctors make better decisions. Technology enables doctors and health-care providers to create better health-care patterns for the future, he said.

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