The Rise of Big Data in Health Care

Big Data ImageBig Data has made headlines in technology by customizing user experience and predicting behavior.

What is Big Data you ask?

It’s the storage and analysis of large quantities of information generally considered too complex for traditional use. Other industries, including health care, are also starting to explore the practical applications of using data to inform decision-making.

I recently explored the potential for the implementation of Big Data in health care in an Observation for the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy describing how Kaiser Permanente is beginning to use quantitative analysis to improve care for their members.

In current medical practice, newborns are typically taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) if the mother’s temperature rises above 100.4 degrees because that may signal an increased risk of neonatal sepsis, a bacterial blood infection. With the emergence of data analysis and evidence-based medical practices, many infants are now spared that trip due to an innovative metric that allows physicians to more accurately determine if the trip to the NICU is essential.

This improvement is due in large part to the work by Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research, where they collected infant sepsis information across the organization in order to build a simple tool for clinicians called the online sepsis calculator. While this program signals a milestone for clinicians and their patients, advancements in the treatment of neonatal sepsis are just the just the beginning of the power of data.

You can read more of my observation at the Institute for Health Policy website.

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