Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Transforming Big Data into Valuable Solutions

By Kameron Gifford, CPC 

Data provides us with the information to answer empirical questions. Every fifth grader in America is familiar with the Scientific Method and its ability to prove or disapprove a hypothesis. But what about Big Data? How do we modify our approach to find tangible value for our consumers?

Ask the Right Questions

Big Data is messy and not precise. Two plus two equals three point nine, and that’s okay. When we have twenty data points in a system, accuracy is essential; but with twenty million sensors, accuracy is not so important.  

We know that predictions based on correlations lie at the heart of Big Data, but to unlock all of its potential we must adjust our expectations.

The entire conversation of Big Data in the healthcare industry must change. Instead of asking “Why” we must first ask “What”.

The “Big Data” Mindset

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Once we begin to ask the right questions, we must open our minds up to “see” the solutions. This shift towards a “Big Data” mindset will enable us to see things differently and allow us to act on opportunities before others do.

Creating Solutions from Correlations

To extract value from data we must first be able to see the possible. This unique sight is what empowers innovators to create disruptive solutions.

The Medical Star Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. and Microsoft Research recently teamed up in an effort to reduce hospital re-admissions. They wanted to identify “What” correlations existed between patients that were re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days.

With the help of Microsoft’s Amalga software they uncovered all the usual “predictors” but also found something else. One of the top predictors of re-admission within 30 days was highly correlated with mental status upon admission. If a patient’s H&P included a negative mental status with words such as “depression” the patient was more likely to return to the hospital.

With this knowledge the hospital can now create new initiatives to prevent re-admissions; thus adding value to both the consumer and the hospital.

 In Denmark, a study combined 3 million cellphone records with the National Cancer Registry to see if they could find a link between cell phones and cancer. Their study didn’t show any correlation, but the idea of combining multiple data sets to predict points of intervention allow us to view the world around us in a much different way.

The solution to our healthcare crisis is far from simple, but I believe the answer lies somewhere in the masses of data we have captured.

What is your data telling you? Are you acting on the opportunity? If not, why?

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