Perhaps no industry has been as transformed by technology as has healthcare—and perhaps no industry needs to be as up to speed technologically. The only problem, however, is that because healthcare organizations house such sensitive information and must be held to such strict regulatory compliance, they tend to lag behind in technology upgrades and integrations. It seems more practical for IT to continue relying on and maintaining the legacy systems and apps that were initially created for their organizations than to invest the outlay of time, money and resources that would be required to replace or upgrade them.


A new study commissioned by Infonetics confirms this to be true. The majority of healthcare providers polled by the industry pundit confess they are slow to invest in big data and M2M due to regulatory constraints and because they have yet to see the clear benefits of doing so. But, for reasons described below, that hasn’t slowed down overall market growth. The connected health M2M segment will hit $2.4 billion by 2018, representing an impressive CAGR of 36 percent from 2013 to 2018.


So, what makes healthcare a boon for M2M, data and analytics despite its lagging technology adoption rate? The answer to that question lies beyond the surface of healthcare organizations in its sea of pertinent, insightful data that has the capacity to transform operations and patient care. And some case studies are beginning to shed light on the potential benefits of prioritizing this big data using business intelligence and analytics.


Consider, for example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago. Last year, the facility launched a tool called “What’s Going Around,” which analyzes electronic health record (EHR) data to identify geographical spikes in diseases, such as the flu.


“It’s really about identifying information from within the data and using it … right away to affect clinical decisions,” explained Jonathon Silverstein, M.D., M.S., director of the Center for Biomedical Research Informatics at NorthShore.

These types of data-driven tools could prove invaluable for advancing medical care, treatment and preventing the spread of diseases. For instance, the U.S. is currently experiencing a rapid spread of the measles. So far, 102 people across 14 states are infected, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the outbreak is growing. Interconnected tools, like those being worked on by facilities like CMS, could perhaps help prevent the spread of such diseases by leveraging relevant patient and historical medical data.

Richard Bookman, Ph.D., a senior advisor for program development and science policy at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, defines big data for healthcare as taking patient experience, behavior and medical culture and converting it into bits of data. While this method may perhaps sound unpredictable, the possible number of benefits that can be derived from such a methodology could be astronomical.

As such, big data is becoming absolutely vital as we continue to experience our world as digital data. It’s time for healthcare organizations to begin prioritizing the invaluable data that’s at their fingertips.

Looking to learn more about healthcare and big data? Click here to read our latest related blog, “Three Steps Healthcare Organizations Can Take to Transform IT.”