CommonSense Blog

Big Data in Healthcare

By Lisa Neiss | Sep 14, 2015

Data, or more specifically Big Data, was the focus of Anna Gruebler’s talk at the #PreCommerce Summit in London today. While we may be aware of its omnipresence, it is its use that is of interest; most of us are not even aware of what is at our disposal, especially in the area of healthcare.

For example IBM’s Watson Health, one of the world’s biggest ‘super computers’, aims to give healthcare professionals better access to data to support the delivery of patient care. This computer strives to combine ‘Explory’s technology with IBM’s powerful Health Cloud and Watson’s cognitive capabilities, to expand the reach of health insights so that big data can finally be used more easily to transform healthcare.’

ANNA                                      ANNA2

However we must also remember the challenges that data in the healthcare sphere poses.

  • First and foremost, the sheer volume of data that is out there, it all needs storing.
  • Secondly, data’s velocity. We are taking, sharing and storing more and more.
  • Thirdly, data’s variety. Pictures, text, data mining, audio, the options are endless.
  • Fourth, and potentially most crucially, veracity. Is the data that we are collecting and storing actually accurate? Does the data that we have gathered reflect the actual user behavior that we’d like it to? How do we ensure that it is accurate?

This is especially crucial regarding the UK’s proposed Care.Data scheme. An opt-out scheme, this will save an individual’s personal health data in order to make it accessible to the likes of healthcare practitioners. While this may be useful if my pharmacist needs my doctor’s notes, it would also mean that my potential health insurer would know all about my medical history… And what if, when considering veracity, that data isn’t accurate?

We still have a long way to go…