Few things in life are as personal as healthcare. Products and procedures are developed with a one-size-fits-all approach, but most are intended to be customizable for patients’ individual needs.
Of course, that assumes knowing what those individual needs are. IT and big data are contributing enormously to advances in healthcare, especially in treating disorders such as cancer and arthritis.
Using Big Data in Healthcare
The first time scientists attempted to decode the 3 billion letters that make up a human genome, it took 15 years. Now, they can do it in a day, thanks to technology. What qualified as “big” data in 2000 is no longer considered big, and some data sets in play today will be small by comparison in a few years.
Think of big data as being the modern equivalent of medical researchers of old, who presented papers sharing their discoveries at conferences. It’s now just much faster and more widely accessible.
Gathering the Data
Various studies are under way to help gather the data needed to achieve personalization:
- Precision Medicine Study: The National Institute of Health has set aside more than $200 million annually to enroll 1 million Americans in a program from 2015 to 2019. The study anonymously sequences genomes, studies health records, tracks history, lifestyle habits and environmental factors. The study’s goals are to learn why individuals respond to particular drug types, identify biomarkers showing risk for specific disease and know which patients will maintain health and fitness versus aging and dying.
- The Tanner Project: Most big data is based on hundreds of thousands of records exhibiting similar markers. The Tanner Project is doing the opposite — aiming to record outliers who vary from statistical norms. By doing so, researchers hope to find ways to identify potential conditions before patients develop them. The data will provide information to personalize treatments with less trial and error, to look for people with similar traits, and help them avoid conditions.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Research: Developing personalized care protocols for patients requires thorough knowledge of the clinical and molecular properties of the disease, which is best gained by discovering subgroups of patients who had either a good or a poor treatment outcome based on available data.
Making the most of big data to personalize healthcare depends not only on having a digital strategy that enables access to (and use of) the data, but also ways to reach people who can benefit from the findings.
For more information on healthcare marketing and to learn about using big data to reach your target audience, call Wax Custom Communications at 305-350-5700 or visit waxcom.com.