Big data is a very helpful tool in healthcare. It allows patients and doctors to evaluate treatment, treatment options, and the outcomes. Big data allows everyone to look beyond themselves and their specific situation.

From real-time results and instant access to your doctor – big data has made getting healthcare information as instant as sending out a tweet.

This has also played a role in how new findings in the health and dental field are shared with the public. With many journals now going digital, patients have instant access to hundreds of medical resources right at their fingertips.

For example, Orthodontic care has become more and more common in the United States. The continued influence of not removing teeth and creating big, broad smiles when teeth are crowded or crooked has an effect on the last teeth to grow in, the second and third molars.

A large, multi-institutional meta-analysis evaluated this situation and found that 87 percent of patients that did not have teeth removed as part of their orthodontic treatment did not have enough space for their wisdom teeth to fit in their mouth at the age of 18 years old and should be evaluated to understand what the potential impact this might have in their mouth.

Big data can make information available so that all patients can understand the impact of decisions that they make several years prior to a problem occurring – like not having enough room for your wisdom teeth.

There are several benefits to big data being implemented in the healthcare field.

1. Patients Predictions for an Improved Staffing
It’s a question all medical professionals face – how many people do I need to staff at any given time? You do not want to be overstaffed, besides the extra labor costs, employees do not want to feel like they are not needed or wanted during their shifts. Additionally, you do not want to be understaffed and face any customer service or emergency situations. A Forbes article details how four hospitals which are part of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris have been using data from a variety of sources to come up with daily and hourly predictions of how many patients are expected to be at each hospital. Forbes states: “The result is a web browser-based interface designed to be used by doctors, nurses and hospital administration staff – untrained in data science – to forecast visit and admission rates for the next 15 days. Extra staff can be drafted in when high numbers of visitors are expected, leading to reduced waiting times for patients and better quality of care.”

2. Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
This is probably the most widespread use of big data in medicine. Each patient has their own record, now in many cases digitally, that allow doctors to see all their information in one place. Every record is comprised of one modifiable file, which means that doctors can implement changes over time with no paperwork and no danger of data replication. These files are also able to be shared between medical professionals for when patients need to be referred elsewhere. It makes the transition quick an easy.

3. Enhancing Patient Engagement
Several patients already use or have an interest in smart devices that track their movement, heart rate, sleeping habits, etc. Tracking this data can help identify potential health risks the patient may not have been aware of before.

4. Telemedicine
With instant access to technology right at our fingertips, medical advice and even consultations are available right from our homes. Either through video conferencing, phone calls, or even text messages – doctors are able to consult, monitor and educate their patients without a formal office visit.

While these are just a few of the examples of how big data is being utilized in the healthcare field, we are seeing new things each and every day that will only improve the care we give to our patients.