If our focus tends to be on analytics solutions for the ocean of large, unstructured data that presents both a challenge and a treasure trove for enterprises, I hope this is never to the exclusion of understanding how analytics can help create a smarter, more transparent, and better functioning world. A healthier one, too.
Healthcare analytics, in the broadest sense, is a fast-developing field, as one might well expect, given that the healthcare industry is booming worldwide. By number of employees, it's already the largest industry in the US, and one of the fastest growing.
We can all benefit from a smarter health industry -- as patients, as family members, and as taxpayers -- and analytics can contribute in all kinds of ways.
- Clinical decision support systems harness real-time medical data to inference programs in order to generate fact-based diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. They can be overlaid with machine learning (AI), too, thus automating mechanisms for self-improvement.
- Batch analytics bring predictive tools to disease management and public health management by drilling into large sets of medical records and population data.
- Analytics can support QA for healthcare systems and help hospitals and clinics predict and manage patient volume and supply-chain dynamics.
- Analytics can provide a platform for building models based on population studies, individual clinical records, molecular, and even genomic data -- models that can be used to enhance individual prognoses and therapies.
It should go without saying that analytics also helps for-profit healthcare facilities capture revenues and save costs.
The clinical benefits of healthcare analytics revolve around a concept known by some as "health information exchange." In simple terms, local, regional, and national health networks are moving toward ever greater pooling and sharing of data. Making this data available in a useful way that can be integrated seamlessly with workflows is where analytics comes in.
Leveraging its acquisition of business intelligence and performance management software vendor Cognos, IBM has developed a suite of healthcare tools with the aim of moving from interpretive to predictive analytic strategies. Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's Global Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry, says: "This is the next big thing. Healthcare analytics are about how you look at data that is available and how you look at the behavior of patients that data reveals, and this will lead to predictive analytics."
Other well-regarded players in the healthcare analytics field -- like Microsoft and Oracle -- are, like IBM, industry-agnostic.
There are also, of course, specialist vendors who tailor their offerings to pharmaceutical and health industry purchasers. CareFusion, for example, provides data hosting and analytics services specifically designed for use by healthcare professionals. NextBio operates at a more fundamental level, providing a cloud-based platform for integrating and analyzing vast quantities of genomic data, as well as capturing clinical and molecular data in ways that can be used to inform diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.
This Thursday, July 14, at 2:00 p.m. ET, I'll be talking to Satnam Alag, VP of Engineering at NextBio, about collective intelligence and analytics, and its application to health research and clinical care. NextBio, hosting petabytes of aggregated content on a scaleable SaaS platform, gives us a glimpse of future possibilities for smarter health management and care. I hope you'll be able to join us.
— Kim Davis , Community Editor, Internet Evolution