Big Data—What Does that Even Mean?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than how many words is data worth? Just two? That doesn’t seem right…and then we try to bucket everything as “Big Data.” Well, that’s just not fair, nor is it accurate. Our healthcare data is vast, complex, and ever-maturing, but to start tackling it, we have to think of it differently. Out with the enigmatic and in with the realistic! When thinking about our Data and its role in Population Health Management (PHM), we should consider what types of patient data can be applied to use cases within organizations, communities, and with time, across the entire industry.

The truth of it is that data is vast, and while some data falls into clear-cut categories (i.e. machine-to-machine data, transactional data, biometric data), much of the data we collect is human-generated data that comes in forms of notes, emails, paper, etc. We’ve made great strides in trying to set normalization standards for electronic data, and have implemented strategies to computerize human-generated data. The steps we’re taking now are important achievements as we move forward towards interoperability—an essential player in deploying mature population health management programs.

Challenges are still present in today’s data journey, such as:

  • Disparate Systems
  • Dynamic Data Types
  • Variability in Diagnosis
  • Complex Patient Data
  • Lack of Usable Products

In our most recent white paper, where I teamed up with Dana Alexander, we delve deeper into where today’s healthcare and population data is, and offer actionable steps to start preparing your organization for PHM, whether you’re just starting to consider it or you’re thick in the weeds of it. I think, wherever you are in your data journey, that you’ll find the information very enlightening. You can download the paper on our website, here.

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