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Big Data – What is it | MicroMD

Big Data

“Big data” is the big buzz word circulating around the healthcare IT world these days. Maybe you’ve heard it mentioned recently? It [big data] did shed some light on a rare disease’s secret1 thanks to a dad and his blog post that went viral. Even the government is using it to look for adverse events linked to marketed drugs2.

Big Data Graph

So what exactly is “big data” and why it is such a hot commodity right now?

Big data is generated information that doesn’t really get stored, for instance, social media posts,electronic medical records, UPC codes, GPS directions, digital subscriptions, emails, computer programs, Internet searches, you get the idea. The “big” designation comes in because Americans are creating so much data, that it’s become impossible for typical desktop data management tools and applications to analyze the information. A typical American worker produces about 5,000 megabytes a day between emails, downloads, computer files, and Internet searches3. In fact, as of 2012, 2.5 Exabyte’s of data are created daily4 requiring “massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers”5 in order to be managed and analyzed. Needless to say, there’s big business out there for companies who can manage big data.

Access to information within big data can provide valuable insight into a particular consumer trend.

Here are some real-world examples6 of Big Data:

  • Consumer product companies monitor social media to gauge customer behavior, preferences, and product perception
  • Manufacturers monitor vibrations from equipment to predict the best time to replace it
  • Ad and marketing agencies track social media to understand responsiveness to campaigns, promotions, and other advertisement strategies
  • Hospitals analyze medical data and patient records reduce readmissions
  • Sports teams use data to track ticket sales and plan team strategy

Perhaps the best example of utilizing big data is taking a look at the UPS strategy. In 2011, along with tracking their packages, the company also began tracking the telematics in their trucks. Doing so gave the company valuable information on a truck’s speed, direction, braking, and performance. The data from that prompted a major overhaul in driver routes, which shaved 85 million miles off daily routes. UPS estimated saving just one mile per day, per driver saved the company $30 million7.

While no one will likely live long enough to see a Geopbyte hard drive, the fact is, the amount of data generated on a yearly basis is only going to go from big to bigger. Figuring out if, how, and where to store it can only benefit your business or organization down the road.

MicroMD offers a multitude of standard reports in its PM + EMR software to slice and dice your “big data” for financial, operational and patient care improvements. Contact us to learn more.

1Tahir, D. (2014, July 21). Big data helps unlock rare disease’s secret, but cost could remain issue. Retrieved from Modern Healthcare.
2Greenfieldboyce, N. (2014, July 21). Big Data Peeps At Your Medical Records To Find Drug Problems. Retrieved from NPR.
3Tucker, P. (2013, May 7). Has Big Data Made Anonymity Impossible? Retrieved from MIT Technology Review.
4IBM What is big data? – Bringing big data to the enterprise. (2013, August 26). Retrieved from wikipedia.
5Jacobs, A. (2009, July 6). The Pathologies of Big Data. Retrieved from acmqueue.
6Acquia. (n.d.). Examples of Big Data. Retrieved from Acquia
7SAS. (n.d.). Big Data: What it is and why it matters. Retrieved from SAS.

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