Business Advice & Ideas

Healthcare Big Data: Big business, with big rewards


09 Jun 2022

The healthcare industry is one of the biggest, if not at all the biggest, in the world. There are approximately 8 billion people on the planet and while the majority don’t require medical help, a significant portion of this number seek medical help or treatment at any given time at varying ages and stages in life and circumstances.

The global healthcare data generated annually is really huge with approximately 2,314 exabytes of new data generated in 2020 alone. An exabyte is the equivalent of one quintillion bytes, one billion gigabytes or one million terabytes (TB). Now, that’s really a lot of data to comprehend. 

That’s because there are so many different types of data collected at hospitals and clinics. Clinical data, which is a staple resource for most health and medical research projects, is typically subdivided into six major types—electronic health records also known as EMR (patient’s information); administrative data; claims data; patient/disease registries; health surveys, and; clinical trials data.

The massive volumes of information created by the adoption of digital technologies that collect patients' records and help in managing hospital performance, otherwise too large and complex for traditional technologies, is known as the industry’s Big Data.

All of the information on healthcare’s Big Data is carefully stored in the “cloud” which requires a user-friendly software solution where healthcare providers, doctors and other health specialists, including the patients can easily access when necessary.

In today’s digital era, easy and fast access to EMR (Electronic Medical Records) is a must. It enables doctors and other medical professionals to have access to important medical information vital to diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care of patients. Uploading health records, patient history, test results, images and other diagnostic findings into the cloud means that members of the care team can always act on the latest information.

But as is always the case, the key to the success of this cloud-based Big Data lies on how reliable your software and internet service providers are. Managing and sharing healthcare data is a delicate task that requires a lot of expertise and care of reliable telecommunications and safe storage of sensitive information on the cloud while giving healthcare providers and patients easy access.  

Thankfully in the UAE, technology is advanced in all industries, especially among telecom providers like etisalat by e&, which have since invested on the 5G network. 

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has also taken the initiative to adopt advanced tech solutions to unify the process of collecting data content and organise patients' healthcare records in the country by using common terminologies within the Riayati platform. MoHAP says this measure contributes to the sustainable consolidation of digital systems and the integration of encoded clinical information into EMR, which are linked to healthcare providers in the country.

The UAE uses SNOMED CT, the world's most comprehensive and precise, multilingual collection of medical terms, as its common healthcare language in data gathering. This is used for consistent data acquisition, aggregation and sharing among healthcare organisations, as it records, indexes and stores patient information and clinical data in a categorised format that can be retrieved or shared when needed for clinical purposes. 

Through the UAE’s Riayati digital platform, the government and the private sectors are able to collaborate to secure patients’ records while providing innovative solutions in the automation and management of health information. 

The shared data is also used to detect any inappropriate processes, tracking public health and risks, as well as supporting the management of healthcare services. It also helps in facilitating the sharing of data regarding costs and outcomes of treatment options for patients.

Whatever the process, managing data well (and safely) will only result in optimal and timely treatment for the average person’s healthcare.