The Health Care Sector is Undergoing a Revolution Thanks to Big Data

Big data is transforming the way people in the modern world live their lives. The ability of companies, governments and academics to analyze massive amounts of information and discover trends and inefficiencies is leading almost every industry in the world to rethink the way it does business.

But of all the sectors of the economy that are being transformed by big data, none may be feeling its effects more than health care. Insurance companies, hospitals, physicians and nurses are relying on the knowledge they glean from this new fount of information to reshape the way they treat and insure patients. And with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act right around the corner, that transition is taking an even stronger hold.

Driving efficiency
The most important impact of the use of big data in health care may be the opportunity it affords providers and insurers to make the overall system more efficient. With better information - whether it be about patient history, how diseases and illnesses work or a person's DNA profile - the health care professionals can apply a wide range of best practices, many of them heretofore unknown, to improve patient outcomes.

That evolution is also likely to lead to less expensive health care, as those best practices will eliminate wasteful treatments and pinpoint the best course of action in curing or alleviating a patient's problems. That, of course, will have ripple effects not only throughout the health care system, but out into the greater society as well. With health costs eating up more than 20 percent of the nation's budget, any improvements in cost efficiency will create a larger pool of money that can be used to fix other pressing problems.

How big data affects careers in nursing
Big data's infiltration of the health care industry should also be a positive piece of nursing news. Long the first line of care, nurses have been able to see how inefficient treatment leads to a wide range of issues for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies in a vicious circle of promulgating costs.

Better information will likely prohibit many of the systemic issues facing the health care system, and make jobs for registered nurses easier, as they will be able to focus more effectively on providing the best care possible.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_nursing.

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