patient database

Big Data Ready to Transform Healthcare

The problems of present-day healthcare are well known—gross inefficiencies, poor outcomes, and inadequate personalized care. A vast amount of information is out there, known as Big Data, that can aid greatly in solving these problems, if only the data could be efficiently accessed, analyzed, summarized, and applied to the healthcare system.

These advances are indeed rapidly taking place. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health system is partnering with several information technology companies to create a database that integrates financial, administrative, clinical and genomic information. Although the process is complex, it can lead to simplified solutions.

Another example is the use of IBM’s supercomputer, Watson. The supercomputer was loaded with vast amounts of patient records from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as well as from many medical journal publications. Platforms were developed that physicians can access to determine cancer treatment options.

Medicare is serving as an impetus to accelerate the process by requiring hospitals to improve care in three critical areas or to incur penalties: reduce readmission rate of patients, adopt electronic health record systems, and reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Analyses of Big Data promise applications that were not really available before, such as the prediction of disease onset so that interventions can be made before the disease manifests.

Not everyone in the healthcare field is happy about the application of big data analytics in an attempt to reduce costs. Some physicians fear that a change from the traditional fee-for-service system to performance metrics will limit their options in treating patients. The controversy relates to the types of tests or procedures that are ordered or performed and under what situations.

Big Data will be a great assist to advance “personalized medicine.” This will be a topic of another blog.

Sources

Bernard, Allen. Healthcare Industry Sees Big Data As More Than a Bandage. CIO, Aug. 5, 2013.

http://www.cio.com/article/737620/Healthcare_Industry_Sees_Big_Data_As_More_Than_a_Bandage?page=1&taxonomyId=3006

Cerrano, Paul. Why Physicians Don’t Like Big Data. Information Week, August 20, 2013.

http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/policy/why-physicians-dont-like-big-data/240160189

Hagland, Mark. Thinking Really Big About Data. Healthcare Informatics

www.healthcare-informatics.com 

 

Big Data Applications

market analysis

“Big Data” is much in the news today. What is it, and what is its significance to the business and medical establishments? Big Data refers to the vast amount of information generated daily, but more specifically to the challenges involved in processing, analyzing, and using the data.

Big Data is being generated from advances in technology including the adoption of large numbers of sensors and smart devices. Big data can be very beneficial in solving business problems, often providing solutions previously inaccessible. To do so can require visionary thinking and talent.

A large amount of Big Data being generated is semi-structured or unstructured data. Quite a bit of this data is lost due to an inability in knowing how to use it.

IBM has developed a platform that addresses this problem. Based on the open-source Hadoop software, this system simplifies, manages, coordinates, and analyzes big Data.

Evaluating Big Data has led to the evolution of a new profession, the Data Scientist, with high levels of both quantitative skills and technical ability.

Virtually all industries can find valuable uses for Big Data, including retail, financial services, manufacturing, government, advertising, media, and energy. Its application for medicine and healthcare will be the topic of my next blog.

Sources

Davenport, Thomas & Jill Dyche. Big Data in Big Companies. SAS Institute, May 2013.

http://www.sas.com/en_us/offers/sem/big-data-2274228/register.html?gclid=CNCH24zB6bgCFRGg4AodelgAgg

Dietrich, David. Big Data Analytics. EMC Education Services. April 4, 2013

http://www.sas.com/big-data/big-data-analytics.html

Zikopoulos,Paul, et al. Understanding Big Data: Analytics for Enterprise Class Hadoop and Streaming Data. McGraw-Hill Companies, 2012.

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/

Challenges to Open Access

As I mentioned in my previous blog, open access is a means of publication that allows free access to scientific journals for libraries, researchers, businesses, and the general public.

The publishing industry has contended that open access will lower the quality of publications by lack of adequate peer review.

Indeed, a few unfortunate recent incidences have occurred that seem to support this contention. Since financing open access often requires authors to pay for publication, some “predatory” online journals have appeared whose sole purpose is to prey on unsuspecting authors eager to publish. The Scholarly Kitchen

A scandal hit an open access journal published by Bentham Science Publishers. They accepted for publication a phony paper that was computer generated.

These incidences could serve as a wake-up call to the open access movement which is now well established. One of the measures of the impact and value of publications is the number of times an article is cited by other researchers. By this measure, open access articles are doing very well.

In 2012, a bill was introduced in Congress that would have repealed the current open access policy by the National Institutes of Health. This bill caused such a groundswell of protests by research organizations, universities, and even many publishers that it had to be withdrawn. (Online Searcher. Vol. 37, No. 2, March/April, 2013.)

 

Open Access

David  Olle3

Conducting literature searches is an essential first step to medical writing. Obtaining articles can be an expensive proposition for clients if they are available only through subscription or through online purchase of individual articles. Open access is becoming an increasingly important alternative.

Open access is the practice of providing free availability and unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly research. The open access movement began modestly about a decade ago with a small group of scientists and librarians and has now grown to be global in status. Currently about 20% of peer-reviewed articles are available via open access.

Publishers of scientific journals have resisted the movement as it challenges their business model. They often provide free access to articles six months or more after publication, but even then there can be restrictions on their use.

The National Library of Congress’s Pub Med is a popular site for searches. PubMed Central is a free full-text archive of journal articles. Springer is a publisher that has embraced open access, and has acquired another open access site, Biomed Central. The Public Library of Science is another important site. The Directory of Open Access Journals allows searches across a large variety of freely available journals.

Dr. Peter Suber presents the case in Open Access Overview that open access serves the interests of many groups including authors, teachers, libraries, universities, the general public, and even publishers. To this list I would add information professionals and their clients.