Big Data for Better and More Accurate Diagnosis in Healthcare

Published May-07-19

Seattle Children’s Hospital is using big data solutions to improve the care of its young patients.

Seattle Children’s Hospital, United States

The Story:

Big Data for Better and More Accurate Diagnosis in Healthcare Big data is making a big impact in healthcare, helping to improve diagnosis, reduce costs of treatment, improve quality of life, predict epidemic outbreaks and more. Health professionals like those in many other industries are able to collect massive amounts of data and look for the best ways to leverage the information.

The three defining properties of big data are known as the 3 Vs - volume, variety and velocity. With regards to healthcare settings volume involves the vast amounts of data that is generated, velocity refers to the incredible speeds with which data can be generated and processed and variety encompasses the many different types of data that is gathered and analyzed.

Faster and More Accurate Diagnosis

One of the many organizations to have embraced the big data revolution is the 254-bed Seattle Children's Hospital, one of the leading children’s hospitals in the United States. At its fingertips are thousands of data points associated with each of the more than 350,000 annual patient visits.

“When you think of how many patients come in and how many visits or hospital stays they have and you think of how many clinical events happen while they're here that data is very big,” said Wendy Soethe, manager, Enterprise Data Warehouse at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The hospital is working with Brightlight Consulting and IBM and using IBM Big Data technology to improve the treatment of its patients by providing quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Queries that used to take five minutes are now taking less than five seconds and those that used to take weeks and involved analysists to compile information manually into spreadsheets are now done on demand.

For example, Soethe illustrates the speed of the system with an anecdote about a physician and a leader of the hospital arriving at its data warehouse to get answers to 16 complex questions to compare to an international craniofacial program. Within 20 minutes they had all the information they needed. This was something that previously wasn’t possible in such a speedy timeframe.

Making a Difference

The IBM PureData System collates information from ten data sources including electronic medical records and billing and general ledger systems. This gives staff a holistic and on-demand view of trends in the patient care process, allowing them to study and evaluate treatment protocols, come up with new and better ones and decide where best to allocate resources.

“Working with Brightlight and using the IBM big data system, we are able to fully understand the hospital’s ‘Big Data’ – the thousands of data points associated with each child – immediately, as needed,” added Soethe.

“As we get deeper into data, we’re actually able to see new commonalities in treatments so we can better identify new protocols, make improvements in care, and ultimately make a difference in the type of care children are receiving.”

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