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Big Data has been a growing part of the healthcare field, which has its challenges and benefits. While allowing easier and more accessible data collection, monitoring, and treatment; Big Data has certainly made its impact in healthcare. With the potential to grow, even more, it is important to understand the challenges that also come with it.
While medical technology is advancing every day, with robots assisting our surgeons in the OR and connecting patients’ heart monitors to nurses’ smartphones (Glassman, 2017), new technology has also been developed to help protect the general population as well. Studies have found that one in five Americans wear a smartwatch/fitness tracker every day (Vogels, 2020). With Americans utilizing these products, technology has been created to add even more health benefits. A provider may be able to avoid having a patient experiencing tachycardia come into the office or hospital if they can use a personal device to monitor their heart rate. Apple watches now come with a fall detection feature that utilizes gyroscope technology to detect when someone experiences an accidental fall (Wang et al, 2020). When the fall occurs, the smartwatch will notify EMS and can also notify the individual’s emergency contacts. This technology has the potential to save lives and also has the capabilities to detect heart attacks through EKG and heart rate detection features. I have a personal connection to this type of technology as a colleague of mine was notified while at work that her father was experiencing a heart attack while on a run. The technology notified EMS of his exact location and he was picked up within minutes. Sadly, he passed away, but she was able to see him before he did because of the notification feature, allowing her to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Technology like this is already in practice for all to use, not just in the clinical setting. With advances like this, healthcare can be more accessible and less expensive to all.
An increase in technology use does come with concerns. With data available to patients, varying from healthcare system apps to personal devices, privacy may be breached. Healthcare facilities that utilize Big Data must ensure that they are enforcing privacy regulations and requirements before uploading any data. Wang et al (2018) states: “Particularly in healthcare industry, it is essential to implement rigorous data rules and control mechanisms for highly sensitive clinical data to prevent security breaches and protect patient privacy. By adopting suitable policies, standards, and compliance requirements to restrict users’ permissions will ensure the new system satisfies healthcare regulations and creates a safe environment for the proper use of patient information”. To ensure that our data is protected, healthcare facilities will need to take these appropriate measures before the big data implementation has started. Lastly, educating patients on how to protect their personal data will also be important. I have personally worked with a number of patients who have required assistance with accessing their electronic health record. By ensuring that our patients are equipped with the knowledge of how to protect their EHR, privacy will be maintained.
Glassman, K.S. (2017). Using data in nursing practice. American Nurse Today, 12(11), 45-47.
Vogels, E. A. (2020, August 14). About one-in-five Americans use a smartwatch or fitness tracker. Pew Research Center.
Wang, Y., Kung, L., & Byrd, T. A. (2018). Big data analytics: Understanding its capabilities and potential benefits for healthcare organizations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 126(1), 3-13.
Wang, Z., Ramamoorthy, V., Gal, U., & Guez, A. (2020, July 19). Possible life saver: A review on Human Fall Detection Technology. MDPI.