It is clear that big data can provide many new business opportunities for organizations. Discoveries about consumer behavior or marketing campaigns can be revealing and informative, but there are many more ways to leverage big data. One example is in making medical decisions.
i2b2, or Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside, is a big data project sponsored by the NIH Roadmap National Centers for Biomedical Computing, with a mission to allow clinicians to integrate medical records, genomics, and clinical research data to narrow vast amounts of information down to mini-databases that can be used to guide medical decisions. The program uses a two-step process which involves making copies of data sets and selecting specific cases in order to avoid the loss of data from the original electronic medical record system. Throughout the process, patient privacy is maintained and the data is compliant with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. (Source)
Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital were able to use this software to determine that a widely prescribed antidepressant, Lexapro, had harmful effects on patients before any large scale studies were done by the FDA. A similar drug, Celexa, was issued a warning by the FDA because of its link to changes in electrical activity in the heart. However, despite its chemical similarities to Celexa, Lexapro was not issued the same warning because studies had not yet been conducted on patients taking this drug. Dr. Shawn Murphy used i2b2 software to examine existing data on over 38,000 patients taking Lexapro who also had heart monitoring data recorded in electronic medial record systems. Based on this data, he was able to conclude that Lexapro actually had worse effects on patients than Celexa did. His findings were published in BMJ and then reviewed by the FDA. (Source)
Big data is inherently a bit scary; it’s like trying to mentally picture the size of the universe. A little imposing, to say the least. But once you get past the scare factor, you can begin to consider ways to look at the data, and you may come across more unconventional ways to leverage its power. For more information about harnessing big data and the innate challenges it presents, check out our webinar, on demand now, 5 Challenges to Managing Big Data.
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