Friday, October 28, 2016

How Big Data Is Changing Healthcare

In the article, “How Big Data Is Changing Healthcare”, there have been huge advances on how hospitals and doctors use Big Data to become more efficient and productive. The world’s population is increasing rapidly, so new modes of treatment delivery are needed. Hospitals and doctors can use Big Data to predict epidemics, cure diseases, and focus on prevention of certain illnesses.

There is a multitude of ways that hospitals and doctors can use to track and monitor a patient’s health status. Millions of people want to live a healthier lifestyle, so they purchase a fitness wearable device that can help track their calories burned, steps walked, and sleep activity. These devices can be linked up with their smartphones, such as how the Apple Watch can be paired with the iPhone. The aggregated data can then be uploaded onto the cloud. This data should be made available to doctors, where they can properly diagnosis the state of health their patient is in. This can also help doctors detect and prevent health issues before it is too late. When you’re able to share personal health data to your doctor, then they will be able to prescribe medicine or treatment options more accurately than without the data.

Big Data doesn’t just help with preventing health issues, but can also help create a much more tailored experience for the patient. We respond differently to medicine, since everyone is uniquely different where we have different genetic makeups. If Big Data was used properly, then it is possible to develop personal medicine. The medicine will be created from the patient’s genetic makeup and data on their lifestyle. This can help a lot of patients, especially ones who have hereditary diseases. The insight from Big Data will be a game changer, helping patients live a much more efficient and comfortable life.

A lot of people will argue on the security concerns with medical data, since extremely secure measures must be taken in order to protect patient data. According to the article, “In February, the largest ever healthcare-related data theft took place, when hackers stole records relating to 80 million patients from Anthem, the second largest US health insurer” (How Big Data Is Changing Healthcare). Patient data is extremely sensitive material and considered valuable to hackers. I think there needs to be an organization created where standards can be placed to ensure proper regulation and protection of patient data. I believe the positives outweigh the potential risks involved with hospitals and doctors collecting medical data from patients.



  1. The use of big data in the health and medical field is an extremely beneficial in my own opinion. Again, this use of technology could pose many issues for the patient and the hospital. It would be incredible for hospitals and doctors to have access to this data because it would allow them to diagnose the patients easier, but where would they keep this data. They would have to be efficient in the want they tier the data because if a patient has an emergency they will not have the time to wait for data to be pulled from the archives. Also, they would have to be have the capacity to store this data, so they would have to consider the cost, whether they keep in the cloud or if they would have to invest in some storage devices. If they were forced to purchase hardware to store the data, they would then need to consider Moore’s Law and how often they would have to update the hardware and also move the data onto new devices. Additionally, security has become a huge concern with the use of big data in health and medical fields. Chris mentions how popular hacking has become in the healthcare field, but I also think this makes it one of the most dangerous senses of hacking. If the medical files get hacked this poses a huge threat to the hospital or company that is handling the data. The clients/patients will be infuriating, begin distrusting the company and then the reputation of the business will suffer. I also think this crosses over the privacy line again. The people who allow their data to be use have to trust the companies to use it with care and not to abuse it. I think there needs to be this idea of set guidelines and protocol that accompany the use of the big data.

    Even though this use comes with a lot of risks, I believe it would prove extremely helpful, especially in saving the healthcare companies more money. I do think the companies should act with the best for the patient in mind rather than pondering how they can use this tactic to save money. I think if the hospitals use this information it may allow them to sooner diagnose the patients and avoid expensive tests that would prove useless. This could also give the doctors more insight to the patient that they maybe wouldn’t think to tell the doctor. It is as if the patient provides them with a baseline by using devices like a Fitbit or Apple Watch. Overall, I do think this technology would prove extremely useful, but I think it is going to take a couple years to perfect a efficient system.

  2. Healthcare is an extremely important topic with consumers and in today’s society. More and more people want to be able to monitor their own health to ensure that they are living a healthy life. In my opinion it would be beneficial if personal doctors were able to have access to the data that the new devices like the, fitbit and smartwatches, are able to gather and provide. If doctors were able to have access to this data then consumers would be able to be monitored more effectively and closely by health professionals in order to be able to determine their level of health and fitness. By doctors having this ability they will be able to determine exactly what an individual would need and cater to that need as opposed to prescribing or recommending a general system or type of medicine. Healthcare professionals would be able to prescribe diet plans and fitness plans more accurately to determine what each individual would need to do on a daily basis to ensure they are living a healthy lifestyle and are staying active. However, I disagree with the possibility of being able to create medicines that cater specifically to an individuals need, not that it shouldn’t or cant be done but that it would be too costly and inefficient to make. If medicine were to be made on the basis of genetics for each individual this would cost companies and individuals and extreme amount of money in todays current economic environment. It has the possibility to happen one day and be extremely beneficial on an individual basis, but right now it would not be feasible. Over all I would say that this was a rather interesting article to read as it can easily be relatable to any person who cares about their own health and the potential it has to benefit them. I am looking forward to this becoming a reality one day.

  3. Chris has done an excellent job framing some of the (many) applications of data in Healthcare. To start, I'd like to take one of his proposals--the one made regarding "wearables" and the collection and use of their data--and hash out its application further.

    Presently, some health insurance and long-term care coverage providers, namely Oscar Health and John Hancock, have begun incentivizing policy holders that elect to share data from their FitBit (or equivalent device) in the form of premium discounts, with the incentive increasing relative to the level of activity indicated by the device. Moreover, FitBit itself has partnered with many of the big healthcare providers, like Aetna and Optum/United, as part of their ongoing commitment to implementing corporate wellness programs across various enterprises. In this case, everyone benefits; customers receive a financial incentive to be more active and insurers are able to better understand the clientele they serve and the medical risks they pose.

    While this data should be protected, its broad use possess less of a risk when compared to an individual's detailed, patient-level medical history. So, there is room to experiment with its use.

    Lastly, I'd like to close by posing a critique to Chris's statement that data could be used to produce "personal" medicine. While this is very true, the costs associated with this production could very easily outweigh its benefits (particularly when you consider just how expensive the drug industry already is). Moreover, disease and illness is constantly evolving, and changing medicine at such a micro-level, in order to effectively combat new disease, is not only expensive, but probably subject to greater error and inefficacy than mass-production of a new drug or treatment.

    It’s exciting to evaluate all the possible uses that Big Data allows Healthcare to pursue. That being said, its important that we remember to evaluate the marginal benefit (if any) of its application against the marginal cost associated with implementing Big Data into useful practices.

  4. Chris' article gives us some great insight into how professionals in the medical field are beginning to use big data to change the way they evaluate and approach each individual patient and situation. For so long, each hospital kept its records in folders or on their own private network, making it difficult for them to share amongst themselves. With big data, doctors and researchers could analyze thousands of patient files to look for various trends that could prove beneficial to the entire field.

    I see a great benefit where Chris talks about using big data to live a healthy life style. Chris explains how people are purchasing "wearable devices" to keep track of their fitness output and other metrics that can be helpful to know. Fitness companies like Baltimore's own Under Armour is investing heavily in this vertical, acquiring platforms like MapMyFitness to assist their customers in tracking their progress and seeing where they can improve. This provides a great opportunity for UA and health care professionals to partner in both putting out important information about personal health, as well as creating products that are conducive to preforming at each individuals highest ability.

    At the end of his post, Chris addresses the potential security risks that come with compiling personal data like this. While I understand those risks, especially in this day and age, I still believe this type of big data collection and analytics would be beneficial. Being frank, their is an obesity problem in this country. Individuals from all age brackets, races and classes are being effected by this and if their was a medium through which they could be more aware of the consequences and ways to combat the situation, It would be nothing but good for the individual and society as a whole.

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  6. I agree with Chris in that wearable technology could lead to incredible breakthroughs in the healthcare industry. The sheer volume of real time information that could be collected and analyzed would revolutionize the way that medical professionals approach not only treatment of individuals but also in the implementation of preventable measures on a macro scale.

    Imagine going to see your Doctor for chest pains that you’ve been having and them being able to pull up your resting heart rate over the past several months. The amount of insight that would provide them would be astronomical. What gets me excited however, is the use of this information on a global scale. Already we have seen big data being used to track the spread of illness, cure disease, and improve quality of life. Scientists will soon be able to track entire populations with incredible accuracy in close to, if not real time given this data is uploaded to a cloud database which researchers have access to. This will have huge implications in terms of how global health crises are managed.

    As Chris mentioned in his response, security is a serious concern when considering this topic. Some of our most sensitive information we have is contained within our medical records and there are very credible risks to having your current medical condition released to individuals trying to do you harm. On a macro level, the ability to track populations and their health is also very much a double edged sword for obvious reasons. Identifying the privacy/security risks are paramount in this issue and should be on the forefront of everyone’s mind. What is important to recognize though, wherever you fall on the spectrum of this debate, is that there will always be a point where the benefits outweigh the cost. In an issue where human lives are at stake, where you draw this line exactly becomes a very critical decision which should not be taken lightly. Further progress in this field must therefore be closely monitored in order to determine where this technology ceases to help and begins to harm not just one individual but humanity as a whole.

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  8. The article “How Big Data is Changing Healthcare” enforces the idea of how beneficial Big Data analytics is and how data collection affects everyone everyday. In today’s world, there are new devices and features being made every day that allows physicians to diagnose illnesses earlier and provide more personal treatments. In a blog I wrote previously, I found that it is becoming more common for individuals to get in-body sensors instead of the use of attachable devices such as a Fitbit, where the data is streamed directly to the doctor.

    In addition to this, author Bernard Marr argues that prevention is better than cure. While this statement may be debatable, Marr states that a patient’s data can be collected and compared against other individuals as a way of determining patterns that could eventually help prevent diseases and illnesses. In this case, I believe that data mining is extremely valuable in learning about a disease’s causes, symptoms, and treatments because not only does it benefit the individual who is being diagnosed, but it also affects all of the individuals who will be diagnosed or affected in the future.

    While Chris has made a series of valid arguments, I do believe that there are some security concerns and risks with the use of Big Data in Healthcare. Between storage costs and security costs, it is easy for a patient’s healthcare information to be breached or exposed to the wrong people. However, in agreement with Chris, I feel that the positive results outweigh the negative risks concluding that Big Data in Healthcare is extremely useful.

  9. After reading Chris’ article about the effects of big data on health care, I believe Chris brings up some interesting points. First of all, the use of big data may help people who have some health problems as well as prevent them. Chris explains that patients as well as anyone can wear devices, like FitBit, to keep track of how many calories they have burned, steps taken, and other useful information for the users to keep track of. However, I don’t think sharing this type of data, like calories burned, steps taken, and the amount of sleep would exactly help a doctor prescribe medicine to a patient alone. The patient still needs to have annual check ups, so the doctor can examine him or her personally. Sometimes the data can provide false information and may prove fatal if relying on big data too much. In other words, we shouldn’t be too independent on big data in health care. However, I think Chris’ explanation of tailoring a unique experience for the user may prove beneficial in the healthcare aspect. For the privacy issues, I don’t believe we don’t have to worry about our data being misused as much comparing to a business. Also, again I would like to point out the time it will take for doctors to look at big data and decide to prescribe what medicine best suits for each patient. Keep in mind doctors have many patients to attend to, so I think doctors without big data may be well off without it. Having doctors to go out of their way to look at data may just add unnecessary work for them to do.


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