Big data tools delve into health records

With the increased adoption of electronic health records (EHR) in recent years, healthcare professionals have found themselves with an unprecedented wealth of valuable information. Using Hadoop big data tools, medical officials and researchers can comb EHR databases, gleaning meaningful insight into every level of patient care. One healthcare enterprise has discovered that their EHR investment has paid off with big data rewards.

InformationWeek reported that the integrated managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente spent $6 billion on an integrated EHR system. The database contains health-related information pertaining to the organization's approximately nine million patients. This information can be leveraged with analytical software to screen for potential health problems and prevent severe illnesses. For instance, a patient's medical history, demographic and behavioral trends could be processed to determine his or her risk factor for heart complications. With this information, physicians can intervene if a patient is shown to be at risk.

The consortium's EHR system has also helped it make patient care more efficient, reducing healthcare costs for both the organization and its patients. Administrators can employ analytics tools to determine if scheduled treatments and appointments are absolutely necessary or possibly frivolous and costly.

Kaiser Permanente has also employed big data programs to enhance its medical research. The New York Times reported that the organization had used data analytics tools to uncover evidence that men who are administered statin drugs for cholesterol are at a lower risk for recurrent prostate cancer. The consortium has also launched a project to analyze their database of diabetes information and determine how they could improve treatment of the disease.

The healthcare industry has only just begun to discover the benefits of data analytics. By employing Hadoop big data software, medical researchers can enhance their efforts to screen for preventable illnesses, develop medical breakthroughs and improve patient care at every level.

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