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In the United States and other countries, healthcare service providers are rapidly adopting Electronic Health Records (EHRs). These records are real-time, digital versions of patients’ charts. They provide a variety of patient-centered information such as medical history, diagnoses, and medications. In 2014, 83% of physicians in the United States utilized EHRs, compared to just 42% in 2004 [BIBCITE%%0%]. A number of other countries already have better adoption of the technology, with over 90% of healthcare service providers in Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom having adopted EHRs in 2012 [BIBCITE%%1%].
Additionally, through progress in healthcare and technology, and the ensuing societal changes, people are becoming more conscious of their health and actively seek to better manage their health and lifestyle [BIBCITE%%2%]. With improvements in computer technology, mobile health monitoring devices are available; both through dedicated devices and through “apps” on personal mobile phones.
Most importantly, these developments are generating extensive datasets of previously unattainable proportions. As a result, hospital-centered healthcare is changing to patient-centered care. Where the goal formerly was to find general treatments for ailments, the goal is now shifting towards early detection of risks, prevention of further complications, and improvement of treatments through patient feedback. Though reducing costs should not be a primary motivator in healthcare, it has been estimated that usage of big data methods in healthcare could cause a 12% reduction of the baseline United States’ healthcare costs [BIBCITE%%3%]. In this essay we will look at leading-edge developments related to big data in healthcare. Recognizing those developments, we will consider which near-future accomplishments can be expected and we will reflect on the desirability thereof.