Healthcare: Ripe for Disruption via Big Data

Maybe Big Data can bring some degree of sanity to an industry sorely lacking it.

Many industries are in need of a swift kick in pants that Big Data can–nay, will–bring. It’s hard for me to think of a bigger target than healthcare, an industry that in the US accounts for a staggering one-sixth of GDP.

To be sure, large companies like IBM are working on ways to increase the bang for the buck that consumers get from their healthcare dollar. But it would be a mistake to ignore the panoply of start-ups trying to make healthcare more innovative and efficient via Big Data.

Hello Cleveland

The Cleveland Clinic understood the power of Big Data and how it could allow healthcare organizations to lower costs and increase efficiency. Management believed that healthcare can and should be more proactive–i.e., not merely responding to crises. Big Data could be a big help to this end. It funded Explorys, a start-up that created new Big Data solutions to help healthcare organizations unleash the power of Big Data. Explorys’ software allows hospitals to marry their own internal data with external data–e.g., information on social networks, from other hospitals, etc.

For example, hospitals might see an uptick in ER admissions for non-emergency reasons. Perhaps there’s a communication issue in the neighborhood; people might not know that there are Urgent Care facilities or doctors’ offices in the area. Think about the following questions:

  • Why not pay for a sponsored tweet or a Facebook promoted story?
  • Why not put an ad in a mobile app?
  • Why not target high-risk people?

Exployrs’ platform lets healthcare practitioners mine the text blob that is the patient medical record–the information from doctors’ notes on the symptoms with which patients are presenting. Armed with that information, doctors can proactively contact patients who are likely to suffer from similar maladies.

Big Data is revolutionizing healthcare.

It’s a fascinating time, and other start-ups in healthcare are doing similar things. Big Data is revolutionizing healthcare. Consider just a few of the companies below:

  • Apixio is a really exciting company that unleashes the power of relevant structured and unstructured healthcare and patient data. What’s more, it culls clinical and administrative data from both paper and electronic records to increase knowledge about patients.
  • Castlight Health is making the maddeningly opaque pricing around healthcare services much more transparent. (Think about it. We have so much data, but rare is the person who can compare services, treatments, and procedures prior to entering a doctor’s office.)
  • SeeChange Health is turning healthcare into a gamification process of sorts. Pay less for losing weight, for instance. If you provide personal health data, they can help you make it worth your while.

Simon Says

Big Data represents a big opportunity for healthcare. Contrary to popular belief, many employees and billions in capital aren’t prerequisites to take advantage of Big Data.

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I wrote this post as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program. It provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise, and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

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