Posted by

Gary Birks

23 Oct 2015

Big data is everywhere, and in particular it tends to build up around large institutions. Proper analysis of data can improve work processes and help push towards better-informed decisions. It can change the way whole systems work if it is understood and worked with, or it can work against an organisation if neglected and left to build up as a backlog of information. One sector that is struggling under the weight of a continual influx of data is the health sector. This is also one of the areas where it is most imperative to keep big data managed, but the NHS, for example, is having a tough time using data to its advantage. This is an issue because the use of data can directly impact people’s health – better insights from data can save lives.

The NHS often suffers from sensationalist headlines and badly reputed hospitals because of its struggle in times of high stress, but a lot of these issues can be traced down to the root problem of not utilising available data. Hospital usage fluctuates over the year – there are surges of patients and data at certain times of the year (winter being the hardest season for hospitals), during certain events and during certain weather. The data coming in has the potential to be exploited for better planning and preparation during these times of need, it’s just a matter of understanding how it can help before planning a strategy.

In healthcare, analysing data can lead to creating more effective best practice patient care guidelines by studying current patterns. It can also be used to identify risk factors when looking at new or already established treatments. However, the most essential area that can be improved through data analysis is Accident and Emergency. By embracing data and examining the information available, safer and better-informed decisions can be made in a department where people’s lives are at risk.

Aside from internal changes that can be made through data analysis, external factors can also be taken into account. Things like the time of the year and severe weather, coupled with analysis of factors within the hospital and patient conditions, allows hospitals the opportunity to forecast times when their services will be in demand the most. With this information they can plan accordingly and begin to allocate resources to necessary departments. As plans are formed, the long term effect will be less strain on specific departments when services are needed. This will have a knock on effect on personnel, putting less stress on hospital staff and allowing them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. A further effect of this will be inevitable improvement of patient satisfaction as they are tended to more efficiently.

The reasons above are more than enough to justify looking into a shift in the culture of ignorance surrounding data. Simply understanding its importance and seeing how drastically it has the potential to change whole systems and even save lives is an important step towards creating strategies to tackle the weight of data that sits in the health sector.

From looking at our big data management options to centralising patient records, Dell has a number of solutions designed with efficiency and care in mind. Improving patient wellbeing and relieving pressure from healthcare workers are two of our biggest goals through technology.

We’re ready to revolutionise the health sector with you; find out more about how we can help you here.


All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce.