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In the beginning of one of Charles Dickens’ classics, a young benevolent English orphan boy named Pip fell in love with beautiful and rich lass, received a large sum of money from an unknown benefactor and was told he would go to London to become a “gentleman”. This would enable him to win the love of his life and achieve everything he ever dreamed. Charles Dickens entitled his novel “Great Expectations”, to describe Pips journey from the apprentice of a blacksmith to a young man of great expectations. In typical Dickens’ style, things are never as easy as they seem and Pip’s fortune does not lead to a life of comfort and ease.

Today, Healthcare is in a place similar to pip. It has access to a fortune of data. It is also at cross roads after years of aggregating and digitizing medical records, patient care data, compliance and regulatory requirements, and research findings. A survey by the eHealth Initiative and the College of Health Information Management Executives showed that healthcare providers have great expectations of big data to provide better care to the customers. The survey of CIOs and other C-level health care executives at 102 provider groups, hospitals, health systems and health information exchange organizations examined trends in data use and associated challenges and barriers. 90% of providers agreed that the purpose of big data initiative in healthcare was for Quality Improvement. Big data provides them with the opportunity to better understand the root causes of undesirable clinical outcomes, and drive improvements in processes and practices to improve care quality while avoiding unnecessary costs.

Data from analysis also shows that there is a huge lacuna between the importance given to big data and the actual coverage for it. While 80% of the respondents agree that big data and predictive analytics are important to their institution’s plans and priorities, 84% believe that their organization faces significant challenges in terms of applying these technologies. Only 45% of the respondents indicated that their organization has a workable plan for making use of the growing volume of health data that’s available to them.

For Big data to flourish the entire organization from top leadership down should have a philosophy of making information-based decisions and should be keen in promoting new skill sets (such as data evangelist, contextual analyst, data visualizer and data custodian) to support its big data and analytics initiatives. While 66% of organizations say that their senior management has made analytics a staffing priority, only 18% have staff sufficiently trained to collect, process, and analyze data. Another 26% report that they have tried hiring more staff for analytics, they haven’t found candidates who are sufficiently trained.

Aristotle asserted that the form of fiction demanded of every work that the protagonist begin with a place in the social world followed by some action in the plot leading to a disruption of this order. In reality, the extent and scope of big data in healthcare are allegorical to the same. Healthcare stakeholders now have access to promising new strands of knowledge. Big data has immense potential to make healthcare a data-driven, value based, and personalized industry. Though the implementation of big data and its usage is still nebulous, the ability to utilize it scarce, yet the potential benefits from saved lives justify the great expectations!

You can visit SAP’s Campaign for Big data in healthcare at: Big Data and Analytics for Healthcare organizations

You can also join us at SAPPHIRE NOW, where you will get the opportunity to network with industry peers, to talk to SAP partners, to touch and feel the latest healthcare solutions and technology innovations. It’s a tremendous opportunity to get a vision of the possibilities for your healthcare organization.