One of the most common issues within the medical industry is deciding how to manage all of the data being generated on a near-constant basis. The amount of information created by hospitals and health clinics is astounding and isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

In general, big data is increasing at an accelerated rate across every industry. The IDC predicted in November 2015 that by 2019, spending on big data infrastructure and services would reach a total value of 48.6 billion, growing at a compound annual rate of 23 percent. This is a clear indication that organizations are learning that they need specific tools to measure and analyze the data they collect.

What is all of this information being used for? Let’s take an in-depth look at how the healthcare industry tackles big data:

“Data provides a good foundation for making value-based decisions.”

Value-based purchasing

Big data is helping the medical industry make better decisions about what tools are going to help patients the most. According to HealthcareITNews, the Affordable Care Act has created an incentive for hospitals to prove their value – but how to do that? Data, it turns out, is providing a good foundation for making these value-based decisions.

The value of pharmaceutical and medical devices can be quantified by determining how these tools are being used to help patients. For instance, an organization can measure quality-adjusted life years.

“At its core, big data is about massive amounts of electronic patient information that can be mined to yield tailored medical results,” Scott Zeger, director of HopkinsinHealth and a biostatistics professor at Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Health Data Management.

In other words, it all comes down to how medical tools are being used to increase the quality of life for patients and improve outcomes, which the analysis of big data can shed light on.

Medical instruments and pharmaceuticals are given value based on how they're used to improve outcomes.Medical instruments and pharmaceuticals are given value based on how they’re used to improve outcomes.

Storage issue: Genomic research

One challenge presented by big data is the question of where all the generated healthcare information is going to reside. The problem of storage is a very real one, especially in an industry that’s governed by compliance regulations and strict legal boundaries. To that end, the big data storage problem is nowhere as acute as it is with human genomic research.

A report published in July 2015 in the scientific journal PLoS Biology found that by 2025, between 100 million and 2 billion human genomes could be sequenced. This sequencing is going to create as many as 40 exabytes of data. To put that in perspective, here’s a fun fact: According to High Scalability, as of 2012, every word spoken by every human throughout history only adds up to about 5 exabytes of data. This creates an issue with data management within the healthcare space.

What’s the answer?

Some say that cloud infrastructure offers a ready answer to the challenges presented by big data in the healthcare industry. No matter how big your big data problems are, at ISG Technology, we can help you find solutions that will meet your needs. Whether you want to store your data in the cloud or in on-premises environments, our managed services experts will know what the answer is. Contact us today for more information.