The more you know about a situation, the better you can respond to it. That’s true for almost all facets of life, and especially true for physicians. Doctors use the information they gather about you from your medical history and personal input to select proper courses of treatment.
Big data—with its ability to bring more information than ever before to physicians’ fingertips—is already helping doctors treat faster, better, and with more efficient results. Here are three of the major ways that’s happening.
1. Personalized medicine.
Our DNA is made up of genes, with each gene functioning toward its own purpose. The more researchers learn about the human genome, the better able they are to analyze genes within a particular patient and provide personalized healthcare based on that information. Already physicians are starting to use data about an individual’s genes to understand how disease functions in their body and select treatments that they know will be the most effective. As the mapping process becomes easier and more cost-efficient, physicians will have access to a greater store of knowledge about their patient’s genetic makeup, meaning customized healthcare that prevents, treats, and cures in the best ways possible.
2. Wearable devices.
It can be incredibly time consuming for a diabetic to stop for glucose readings throughout the day and respond with insulin when necessary. But thanks to technology, implantable devices can now read glucose levels automatically, sending results to diabetics, their physicians, and their caregivers in real time. Doctors are able to monitor the illness, adjust insulin dosages, and track patterns, all without the patient having to come in for a visit. Similar automatic data sharing is helping heart disease patients monitor pulmonary artery pressure, and has the potential to work for a variety of other chronic illnesses as well.
3. Disease control.
Certain illnesses can reach pandemic levels if they’re not properly reined in first. For example, antibiotic resistant superbugs, which are bacteria that evolve in the body to not respond to traditional antibiotic regimes. These superbugs can easily spread outside of hospitals, creating communities of people where antibiotic therapy no longer functions properly. Now with the help of collaborative data networks, institutions who find these superbugs in a patient can notify other healthcare professionals in the area and put out an alert for extra precaution beyond their own doors, greatly reducing the chance of the problem getting out of control.
Big data means better treatment. We’re seeing it already as the healthcare industry transforms alongside technological innovation, and we’re sure to see incredible progress in the future.