Big data is increasing the quality of patient care, staff productivity and streamlining healthcare processes.

Big data is a term that describes a large volume of data, which can be both structured or unstructured and overwhelms businesses daily. Big data is analysed for ideas that lead to better business decisions and strategic moves. defines the 3Vs of Big data as variety, velocity and volume.

The healthcare industry is typically known to generate large amounts of data in different forms, therefore it is becoming more important for people to manage this data in a secure manner. Data analytics are used to improve services and tackle operational problems within organisations.

Big data in healthcare is used to increase the quality of patient care, streamline business processes and improve staff productivity. This is achieved by collecting and aggregating large amounts of patient data produced from various sources. Analysing the data for certain purposes such as patient care and applying the analysed data to improve quality of patient care systems can help to increase ROI.

The healthcare industry is benefiting from big data in the following 3 ways:

1. Improving patient outcomes through using clinical analytics to improve overall patient care. Using analytics to identify at-risk patients based on history, chart information and patient trends, medical intuitions can identify at risk patients and provide them with timely necessary care.

2. Ability for healthcare professionals to critically analyse health records. Healthcare professionals sharing electronic health records can analyse data for trends that reduce healthcare costs. Sharing data between healthcare professionals can reduce the need for duplicate tests and thus improve overall patient care.

3. Controlling data for public health research. Hospitals regularly submit data about medical conditions but without big data, this data has no use. Using analytics and analysis to break down patient data, fills the gaps in public health records and positively impacts industry regulations and increases the level of patient care.

Due to the recent rapid expansion of technology in healthcare, organisations are beginning to understand the need to analyse large volumes of data to generate the best patient care. The more data that is available to healthcare professionals, the easier it is to identify trends, analyse patient data and identify possible improvements.

There are challenges associated with big data in healthcare today, mainly around the technical expertise required to use it and a lack of robust integrated security surrounding it.


Big data is largely limited to research because using it requires a specialised skill set. Hospital IT staff are typically more familiar with traditional programming languages and databases and are not prepared for the steep learning curve and complexities associated with big data.

Most organisations require data scientists to manipulate and extract data out of a big data environment. These are normally Ph.D. – level thinkers with extensive expertise and are not normally found working day to day in your average health system.

The positive news is that thanks to the development of technology and online applications, people with less specialised skill-sets will be able to easily work with big data in the future.


In healthcare the privacy and security of patient data is a key consideration for organisations. Due to the growth of cybercrime including hackings, ransomware and phishing attacks, healthcare data is subject to an array of vulnerabilities.

Healthcare organisations are increasingly taking steps to ensure better security of big data. These include common-sense security procedures such as using the latest anti-virus software, firewalls, encrypting sensitive data, and using multi-factor authentication.

But even with the tightest security protocols in place, systems can still be taken down due to the tendency of staff members to make mistakes and their prioritisation of convenience over complicated constraints on individual access to data or software.

The importance of big data does not revolve around the amount of data you have but more around what you do with it. Data can be extracted from any source and analysed to find solutions that can help with; cost reductions, time savings, product enhancements, and smart decision making.

Big data in healthcare is unavoidable, as technology moves forward the many benefits need to be considered as they can result in positive outcomes for patients and healthcare professionals alike.

Here at Cohort Software, we are committed to abiding by the highest possible standards of security and compliance.