Category Archives: Debate

Big Data in Healthcare: Easier Said Than Done?

In 2011, IDC predicted the that size of data or the “digital universe” would increase by 48% in 2012, accelerating the innovation of in-memory databases and analytic functionality.  Since then, everyone’s been talkin’ about big data:  what it means and how it will shape US industries like healthcare.

“Healthcare organizations around the world are challenged by pressures to reduce costs, improve coordination and outcomes, provide more with less and be more patient centric,” explains a recent report by IBM.

The solution? Building analytics competency which would allow these organizations to use “big data” to set goals and produce better outcomes more quickly.

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The Debate Over Universal Patient Identifiers

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal presented a two-sided argument around the implementation of UPIs (universal patient identifiers) in healthcare.  For those unfamiliar with the topic, if UPIs were put in place, first and last names, social security numbers, and other personal information would no longer be needed to pull a patient’s medical records.

The question posed by the WSJ was if every patient should have a unique ID number for all medical records, and the answer came down to a matter of opinion.  Those in favor of UPIs believe it will make health systems more efficient, while those opposed raise privacy concerns.  More differences in opinion on the topic are outlined below:

  • Efficient way to connect patients to their medical data
  • Facilitates information sharing
  • Gaurds against needless medical errors
  • Improves the quality of health care and lowers costs
  • Privacy issues
  • Patients could lose trust in the system
  • Makes it easier for companies to use data

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Are Brand Name Drugs Better Than Generic?

The decision to go brand name over generic when choosing prescription drugs is usually far from scientific.  In fact, it tends to boil down to the simple question:  “Eighty dollars or ten?”

Because while the subject matter is entirely scientific, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the difference is so minimal that the price supersedes potential risk.  Our doctors support the trade-off and from what we can tell, there’s no difference!  So when the question over $80 or $10 arises, we chose $10.  We are happy about our savings and leave Walgreens with a smile..  an hour later, however, we’re left wondering if we made the right choice…

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