Critical Read

Is big data the cure for health-care systems?

stethoscope on keyboard

What: A MeriTalk study titled “The Big Data Cure,” released March 24. The study was underwritten by EMC.

Why: Emerging technologies offer the potential to fundamentally change the way federal agencies handle health care and medical research. While big data offers big benefits, the study suggests health-care agencies must take steps now to increase their readiness to ingest, analyze and store massive increases in data.

Of 150 federal IT and business executives from health-care-related agencies surveyed, fewer than 20 percent said their organization is prepared to work with big data. Thirty-four percent reported spending on IT systems to optimize data processing, and only 29 percent said their agency had properly trained IT professionals ready to manage and analyze big data.

However, agencies are investing in new technologies like mobile health (mHealth) solutions and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies that automate the sharing of health care-related data – 34 percent of those surveyed reported their agency using mHealth. Within two years, 53 percent of respondents said their agencies would implement M2M technologies because of its potential to reduce the cost of patient care.

Overall, 59 percent of respondents believe that in five years, successfully leveraging big data will be critical to fulfilling their agency’s mission objectives.

Verbatim: How will big data help?  

  • 63 percent say big data will help track and manage population health more efficiently.
  • 62 percent say big data will significantly improve patient care within the military health and VA systems.
  • 60 percent say big data will enhance the ability to deliver preventive care. 

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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