Big data makes leap forward in preventing sickness possible

30 May 2016
Time to put all this data to good use, writes Bernard Marr in an article on Forbes. Big data can help here, having as big an impact on medicine and healthcare as on every other sector: it continues to change the way we think about everything from sales to human resources. In healthcare applying big data can help to do more with the collection and analysis of data (who gets sick, how they get sick and why) than trying to heal people after they get sick.

The potential for breakthroughs and change is growing exponentially along with quantity and quality of data. This can assist in putting more focus on preventing people from getting sick, which in the end is much more efficiënt for both healthcare providers and patients. Not to mention a lot cheaper for consumers and governments. It’s the old adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is true.

Already health and fitness apps and devices are used to assist people with a healthier lifestyle or to help treatment of chronic ailments like diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease.  Researchers, says Marr, are now beginning to compile more and more of the aquired information into incredibly useful databases, that could be game changers in understanding the intersection of lifestyle and disease.

More objective data

It’s not just about more data giving better insights in how to help people with healthier lifestyles or how to better treat chronic ailments. Analysing all the raw data also helps to get a more objective view on matters.’The problem with many medical studies is that patient behaviors are self-reported, and there’s a well known psychological phenomenon wherein participants fudge their own data to make themselves look better,’ writes Marr.

With smartphones and wearables, the device can impartially record and transmit actual data, such as steps walked, heart rate, etc.  The patient’s ego or opinions will not never enter into the equation. This will provide more and more accurate data for researchers than ever before.