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Big Data to See Explosive Growth, Challenging Healthcare Organizations

Big data in the healthcare industry is expected to keep growing rapidly through 2025, but organizations still face significant data management challenges.

Author: Jessica Kent

Source: Thinkstock

December 03, 2018 - The volume of big data is projected to grow faster in healthcare than it will in other sectors over the next seven years, leaving healthcare organizations with the challenge of managing extremely large data assets, according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report sponsored by Seagate Technology.

Researchers found that healthcare data is projected to grow faster than in manufacturing, financial services, or media. Healthcare data will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36 percent through 2025.

In comparison, data in the manufacturing industry is projected to see a CAGR of 30 percent, financial services data is expected to grow at a rate of 26 percent, and data in the media and entertainment industry will increase at a compound rate of 25 percent.

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This rapid increase in data volume is due to advancements in big data analytics tools and medical imaging, as well as the increasing availability of real-time data to help with clinical decision-making.

“Providers are taking advantage of greater intelligence being built into diagnostic equipment and patient devices that can collect patient data, upload it to the cloud or a centralized datacenter for analysis or diagnosis, and then receive instructions or recommendations based on the patient’s specific needs,” the report said.

The rise of chatbots and virtual assistants will also increase the volume of healthcare data.

“In the future, in-home robotic healthcare assistants will monitor elderly patients and provide notification if an individual requires assistance, ensure medication is taken, and even perform simple tasks,” IDC predicted.

IDC used DATCON (DATa readiness CONdition), an index that assesses data management, utilization, and monetization, to determine the level of data-readiness in different industries.

DATCON scores are determined from several metrics, including data growth, security, management, and C-level involvement. Scores range from 1 to 5, where 1 represents an industry that lacks the readiness to manage and monetize its data, while 5 represents an industry that is completely optimized.

Healthcare received a score of 2.4, meaning the industry falls below average in some data competency metrics, including IT investment and technological innovation.

“IT investment in healthcare is among the lowest of all industries. As a result, IT departments have difficulty catching up with data management challenges, let alone investing in advanced architectures, edge computing, robotics, and other necessary technologies,” the report stated.

IDC also found that more than 40 percent of healthcare organizations still struggle to hire employees with the necessary data skill sets. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of healthcare respondents said their organizations lack a blockchain strategy or have yet to implement any blockchain initiative.

Blockchain, despite being in a relative state of nascency, could offer a unique next-generational opportunity for healthcare to transform digitally,” the report said. “Blockchain can underpin a patient's medical record and treatment history, which will accelerate predictive care and prescription management while maintaining the privacy and integrity of personal patient data.”

As the amount of data in healthcare continues to increase, finding solutions to these issues will only become more critical. The report suggested that organizations make investments in health IT, blockchain, and analytics tools a priority, and seek external or professional assistance in closing the digital transformation gap.

Going forward, the healthcare industry will have to improve its data management capabilities in order to keep pace in a digital landscape.

“If healthcare is going to deliver on the promises of personalized, faster, more effective care, then it must be better than average when it comes to its data preparedness and competency,” the report concluded.

“Companies looking to be relevant between now and 2025 will need to understand the role data plays in their organization. They will need to embrace their role as data guardians, leverage the cloud, and take a global approach to their data.”

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