Marc Wilczek
16. June 2014 0

The benefits of using big data in healthcare (Part 1)

Big data, with its new business models, is still a very large growth market. So it is no surprise that interesting potential applications are also being developed in the healthcare sector – to the benefit of health insurance funds, hospitals and most of all, patients.

What exactly is behind these new solutions?

The ICT trends and challenges in the healthcare sector can be divided into the following categories:


Today, healthcare management for patients is provider-centric. This will change in future. By 2020, healthcare management will become more patient-centric. This individualization will serve customer needs better, but will also help to reduce costs through custom-tailored treatment. 


Another major trend is decentralization.  Today, patients tend to visit their family doctors or receive inpatient care at hospitals. In a few years, telemedicine and mobile monitoring could make it possible for people’s own homes to serve as an alternative treatment sites. How will this work?  Telemedicine platforms can be used to monitor vitals, for example, and electronic journals are a potential option for diabetes patients. Of course, privacy protection must be observed when it comes to such sensitive data.


Like in other sectors, the digitization of processes and workflows in healthcare can help to cut costs significantly. In this area, platform-based solutions – such as integrated IT systems or mobile & video communication with patients or experts –can greatly simplify workflows.

Integrated supply and new services for patients

In general, integrated supply – through an all-encompassing IT and communication infra­structure (telematics) or electronic patient file – provides for simplified process flows and improves treatment options, because the respective specialists have direct access to the data they need.  In addition, the integration of social media platforms makes it possible to create new services and benefits for patients.

Ultimately, all of these requirements result in a significant increase in the amount of data that is generated and has to be processed in the healthcare sector. According to estimates, data volumes in the healthcare area will increase 50-fold between 2012 and 2020: from 500 petabytes to more than 25,000 petabytes.1

How can big data add value?

Big data technologies harbor the very solution approaches that are capable of meeting these challenges. The use of big data as inexpensive storage for the processing and analysis of large data volumes can result in significant gains in processes and cost efficiency. Several example use cases make this instantly clear:

Personalized healthcare management/personal health

  • The integration of different, already existing data sources from prevention, diagnostics and therapy
  • Personalized drug treatments
  • A database for doctors to support personalized therapy and treatments (clinical treatment support)

Analysis of heterogeneous data in the healthcare system

  • The fragmentation of data and insufficient networking in the healthcare domain result in high costs
  • Preventive healthcare through correlation analyses of data from different sources

Pharmaceuticals: development/trials of new medicines

  • With big data: aggregation of data from multiple research institutions and shared analysis
  • With big data: data-intensive, CPU-intensive simulations: impact studies of drugs and improvement of clinical studies

Long-term archiving in the healthcare system

  • Archiving as a use case for big data
  • Archiving of data from the company data warehouse (DWH), while maintaining analysis capabilities

Come back tomorrow to read about the specific benefits of big data and the E-Health portfolio that Deutsche Telekom and T-Systems offer to capture them.


1 Feldman et al. (October 2012) in: Big Data in Healthcare – Hype and Hope


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