As technology advances, it is being used in ways that, ten years ago, people never could have imagined. One such example is the pairing of big data with pediatric medicine. Big data is a simplified term referring to large sets of data – potentially billions or trillions of records.
Tom Davis, manager of business intelligence at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, has discovered a unique way to use big data to better treat young patients. Specifically, Davis and his colleagues wanted to know how neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients were enduring testing for retinopathy, an eye condition that can lead to partial vision loss or blindness if left untreated. The team created an application that provides doctors with the ability to review babies’ vital signs before, during and after the retinopathy exam. That data is then used by the doctors to determine if and when the babies are experiencing stress so that the test can be made more tolerable.
Other pioneers in this field are the doctors and researchers at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, home to the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Raj Srivastava, M.D., M.P.H., the assistant VP of research, says the hospital uses big data as a core indicator for many of their treatments. A dedicated team is assigned to analyzing data. The information is then provided to doctors and nurses so that they can change their behaviors and treatments based on the data they receive.
Additionally, the PEDSnet learning health system, a national network focused on improving the quality of institutions through clinical trials and research, has been instrumental in efficiently utilizing big data in the 21st century. PEDSnet’s motto is “data in once, used many times.” In other words, the company can bring in one set of big data, analyze it, and use it across a large spectrum of patients and families.
One concern some have about this immense gathering and sharing of data is privacy – who owns the data, who can share the data, and who will see the data. It is possible that with the advancement and future use of big data, some states may see legislation surrounding the procurement and use of this information. But big data, however it may be regulated, seems to have a bright future in the healthcare industry and will continue to help providers efficiently treat and monitor patients.
B3 Strategies represents both Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Arizona Data Center Coalition. The rise of big data creates new opportunities for growth and partnerships within Arizona’s pediatric and data space. Arizona is a Tier 1 market for data center growth and development, and home to the third largest freestanding pediatric hospital in the United States. We look forward to continuing to work with both Phoenix Children’s and Arizona’s data centers to create partnerships and identify new ways to help serve Arizona.
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