Will healthcare big data go extinct?

Aug. 29, 2016 / By AJ Dandrea

In 2015, I wrote about the challenges in delivering analytics using incomplete data. Has anything changed in the last year and a half? Originally, the intent of many of the offerings out there was to compare outcomes between facilities and even physicians. As you can imagine, the ramifications of analytics without the context of the complete patient engagement became a problem and the industry hasn’t seen an increase in demand for these types of applications. Every few months there is news on security breaches, which cause even the most innovative of CIOs to consider changing big data initiatives to reduce the risk footprint. Will healthcare BIG data go extinct?

What have we learned?

We have discovered that attempts to capture all data elements from every application, EMR, etc., fail to provide the complete picture of a person’s health. For example, there is nothing in the data that shows us the true health of a population if a portion of the data had to be removed due to mental health or other regulatory exclusions. We still have Swiss cheese if we continue to utilize existing applications and feeds. How do we discover true insight to a patient population without all of the data? The honest answer is that it is only going to become more difficult as concerns over security begin to limit efforts that attempt to amass data on a large scale.

We still have Swiss cheese in the data, but what about the Balkanization of the data owners, as I described in my earlier blog?

You may recall our definition…

Balkanization: The division of a group into smaller, uncooperative and mutually hostile groups.

Hostile may not be the accurate description of data owners. Let’s use cautious. As stewards, we have to be very cautious in any effort to export or traffic healthcare data as the ramifications of a breach greatly outweigh the benefits of convergence. As a result of recent security events in the news, have we doomed big data in healthcare? 

AJ Dandrea is operations manager of the cloud hosting organization at 3M Health Information Systems