Did you know that 25,000 petabytes of medical data will exist by 2020? If you took 4,000 digital phots every day of your life, you’d amass close to 1 petabyte of digital imagery. 25,000 petabytes is almost unfathomable, but it’s coming to a medical data center near you.
The medical industry impacts every aspect of our daily lives. If data is transforming healthcare, it’s going to impact more than just your personal medical care. Health data analytics allows for powerful new cures to be researched more effectively.
And if you’re looking for a job in the booming data science industry, medical data would be a smart choice for your specialty. Let’s take a closer look at some of the healthcare data innovations on the horizon – you might discover a project or niche that speaks to your personal skills and passions.
Leveraging Medical Data Starts with Improving Data Sourcing
When you visit your healthcare provider, you’re handed a form to fill out. This form requests all of your vital information, along with a family medical history report and an explanation for your visit. The way that this information is entered into the medical facility’s database is a big deal.
If it’s entered sloppily, the information is less useful for data scientists attempting to help doctors and researchers with their work. That’s because a data analyst will be required to comb through the data before it can be used – the more errors, the more time this takes.
There’s a growing number of data contractors that are being tasked with visiting medical facilities to educate their teams on how to properly insert data – emphasizing complete, accurate data entry. In addition, these teams usually include a programming expert that can help the facility better leverage their data collection technology.
This leads to better systems for collecting, storing and aggregating data for use by medical data analytics platforms. There’s a lot that goes into becoming a data scientist, but adding some intern or training experience in this capacity is a great way to become more interesting to recruiters and hiring managers in the data space.
Every Man Is an Island, But Their Data Shouldn’t Be Stuck on One
Think about how you interact with data. You probably aren’t sitting there staring at a data collection unless you’re trying to answer a questionor populate a report that answers many questions for stakeholders and decision-makers.
The challenge for clinicians is that when they have a question, they compile data into a pre-configured excel sheet. Then they try to find correlation between two things – like patient age and the spike in flu-diagnosis seen at their practice.
This information is then saved on the clinician’s computer and shared on a case-by-case basis with other members of the medical team. The excel sheet, full of information is referred to as a data island. This means that the information is accessible to certain people, but inaccessible or unknown to the broader community that could benefit from its insights. And you are also missing out on the creative thinking and unique perspectives that other people can offer.
There’s a growing population of data advocates that are pioneering a new course in medical data management – with a key focus in remaining HIPAA compliant in regards to the use of personally identifiable patient information.
The goal is to build secure, tightly regulated bridges between data islands within a medical organization and approved partners. Medical researchers can get around many of the hurdles of data-sharing introduced by HIPPA if they become approved partners.
But in order for these partnerships to work in a way that supercharges medical treatment and research, while respecting patient privacy, specialized data scientists and network engineers have to come together to brave the choppy seas of government regulations and proprietary data contracts.
In conclusion, you’ll find that there are a growing number of opportunities for both entry-level and experienced data scientists to jump in and fuel the future of healthcare data analytics. Will you enter the fray and help supercharge medical advancements in the 21st century?