If you want to find out how Big Data is helping to make the world a better place, there’s no better example than the uses being found for it in healthcare.

The last decade has seen huge advances in the amount of data we routinely generate and collect in pretty much everything we do, as well as our ability to use technology to analyze and understand it. The intersection of these trends is what we call “Big Data” and it is helping businesses in every industry to become more efficient and productive.

Healthcare is no different. Beyond improving profits and cutting down on wasted overhead, Big Data in healthcare is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life and avoid preventable deaths. With the world’s population increasing and everyone living longer, models of treatment delivery are rapidly changing, and many of the decisions behind those changes are being driven by data. The drive now is to understand as much about a patient as possible, as early in their life as possible – hopefully picking up warning signs of serious illness at an early enough stage that treatment is far more simple (and less expensive) than if it had not been spotted until later.

So to take a journey through Big Data in healthcare, let’s start at the beginning – before we even get ill.

 Prevention is better than cure

Smart phones were just the start. With apps enabling them to be used as everything from pedometers to measure how far you walk in a day, to calorie counters to help you plan your diet, millions of us are now using mobile technology to help us try and live healthier lifestyles. More recently, a steady stream of dedicated wearable devices have emerged such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Samsung Gear Fit that allow you to track your progress and upload your data to be compiled alongside everyone else’s. Applications like my welliving  is also bringing up a wide range of wellness solutions across the globe with a network global service providers.

In the very near future, you could also be sharing this data with your doctor who will use it as part of his or her diagnostic toolbox when you visit them with an ailment. Even if there’s nothing wrong with you, access to huge, ever growing databases of information about the state of the health of the general public will allow problems to be spotted before they occur, and remedies – either medicinal or educational – to be prepared in advance

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