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Big Data Put into Practice: Patient Care & Costs

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Greg Freiherr writes for CIO, “Mining massive collections of patient data has healthcare poised to improve patient outcomes while holding down costs.”  Today let’s look at two real-life uses of big data in the healthcare industry that improve patient care and costs.

The work of data scientists at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia was highlighted by Ken Terry on CIO.  Penn Medicine has data in the amounts of petabytes and it is using big data tools to analyze and create better care pathways. The team not only sets out new pathway ideas, but also tests with patients and “feeds” the results back into their algorithms to learn and recalculate. Mr. Terry reports that so far the team has improved the hospital’s ability to predict what patients are at a high risk of developing sepsis.  The team can identify patients a full 24 hours sooner than it could prior to using big data methods.

Jessica Davis reports for Information Week that Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is using big data to tackle healthcare quality and costs, “the Axis big data initiative at Blue Cross Blue Shield Association incorporates more than $350 billion in annual claims, 36 million provider records, and more than 700,000 BCBS patient reviews, all with the goal of helping healthcare consumers make informed decisions.” Axis will be a reference tool that allows consumers to compare costs by geography but also goes one step further and looks at the costs of pre-procedure and follow ups – providing a “total cost price reference.”  All 36 BCBS members are now contributing data making it the only healthcare system to have data from every ZIP code in the U.S.

The Penn Medicine example focused on patient care and Blue Cross Blue Shield focused on evaluating costs are two examples of the power of big data to benefit the healthcare industry in numerous ways.