In 2018, big data investments in healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will be nearly $4.7 billion. Innovations from big data analytics combined with scientific discovery have fueled a fundamental shift from disease-centered care to patient-centered care. The Human Genome Project was designed to increase efficiency in disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. This project has helped scientists discover over 1,800 disease genes. And companies like 23AndMe sell direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits to help individuals benefit from having an understanding of the human genome. The company also collects customers’ DNA potentially making it the Amazon of healthcare in the future. Targeted therapies in oncology have already identified that nine percent of genetic mutations are actionable. And, clinical trials are underway to understand if precision medicine can live up to its promise.
Generally speaking, companies are trying to leverage large datasets to find variations that may create new therapies or drugs that fit the individual patient’s biology. As part of that fine-tuning, healthcare in the next 15-20 years could change everything from the amount of drugs they give to individual patients to how a patient’s own stem cells are used to regain quality of life.
The digital revolution has created enough data that can be analyzed through advanced algorithms and machine learning to tailor healthcare strategies to the individual. In the future, electronic medical records may be used across the globe to predict diseases before they occur. Public health departments could play a new role in using this data to implement targeted solutions before diseases even start.
The era of personalized medicine is changing the future of everything from diagnostics to home care. The key to success will be how organizations foster the innovation and development of machine learning applications. Also, challenges such as healthcare data security and privacy, data leakage, handling of medical imaging data, and other ethical dilemmas will need to reach some resolution so that they do not become barriers to the advancement of these innovative technologies. Regardless, big data is changing the world, in ways that could very likely save your life.
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