Everything You Need to Know About the Future of Data Science

Know About the Future of Data ScienceIn a general sense, the term “data science” refers to the ways that data is studied to uncover the types of meaningful insights that people might otherwise miss. Without data scientists, you’d be talking about little more than digital files made up of 1s and 0s sitting on a hard drive somewhere. Without someone to make use of the data, the potential innovation inside it would remain hidden.

As is true with most concepts these days, data science has evolved tremendously in a relatively short amount of time – something that is expected to continue over the next decade and beyond. There are a number of emerging technologies, not to mention fascinating trends, that you should absolutely be aware of moving forward.

What Exactly IS Big Data?

At its core, the term “big data” refers to the types of large data sets that can be analyzed and examined to uncover trends, patterns, and other insights that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. It’s particularly relevant in business environments, as well as healthcare settings.

According to one recent study, in 2020 alone, it was estimated that every person on Earth was generating about 1.7 megabytes of new information every second. With that number only expected to climb over the next decade, it’s easy to see why Big Data has become a topic that many professionals are devoting attention to.

What’s the Significance of Big Data in Pharmacy?

In the world of pharmaceuticals, in particular, Big Data is invaluable not because of the information itself but with regard to what that information might help unlock.

In an article released by Forbes, it tells us that researchers can use high-quality data and predictive modeling to help better understand the toxicity of certain medications, for example. They can get a better sense of any potential interactions that both patients and doctors need to be aware of or use historical data collected from clinical studies, drug trials, and more to understand the future in a far more actionable way.

All of this provides more effective care and better outcomes for patients around the world, which in and of itself is the most important benefit of all.

What Are the Opportunities for Optimization With Big Data in Pharmacy

Especially regarding big data and specialty pharmacy organizations, there are several opportunities for optimization that people are already taking advantage of.

Real-Time Data Analysis for Inventory Management

Getting a better understanding of inventory management in real-time can help uncover trends before they take shape, guaranteeing that essential medications are always in stock – even as usage levels rise or fluctuate in ways that would have previously been considered unpredictable.

Note that this also helps to generate superior visibility over the entire supply chain as well. If delays are to occur, organizational leaders will know about it immediately so that they can proactively devise a solution as opposed to reacting after the problem has already occurred.

Automated Prescription Filling and Refilling Systems

Automated prescription filling and refilling systems can not only help make sure that people who need access to critical medication always have it, but it can also save money by freeing up the valuable time of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to focus on more important matters.

Detection of Adverse Drug Reactions

Big Data can be leveraged to detect adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in several ways. Analyzing the data found in EHRs, drug utilization databases, and clinical trials can help identify patterns and associations between drugs and ADRs before the drug is too widely disseminated. Even social media can be useful, as patients increasingly report experiencing adverse drug reactions on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This data can be mined using natural language processing (NLP) techniques to identify potential ADRs.

Personalized Medicine

Based on the type of data collected by wearable devices, through social media, and via other sources, healthcare professionals can offer a more personalized approach to medicine than ever before. This includes ongoing analysis and monitoring to identify risk factors and side effects in a more proactive way.

Insights and Benefits

Arguably the biggest benefit of big data as a concept has to do with the insights and benefits it brings with it. At a baseline, it affords more patient-centered outcomes than ever before – allowing professionals to administer better, more personalized, and more effective care to a larger number of people.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Once healthcare professionals better understand the impact that a particular drug has on treatment, they can see which methods are working and which ones aren’t. This leads to people getting the care they need for conditions faster than ever, which is always the end goal.

Efficiency in Drug Development

The insights derived from Big Data can help accelerate drug development to again arrive at more desirable patient outcomes faster than ever, reducing waste by ensuring that drugs are making their way into the market before they have a chance to expire.

Reduced Healthcare Costs

Big Data can help reduce healthcare costs by giving officials a better understanding of the average ingredient cost per prescription and other important metrics. This can lead to better and more informed decisions when it comes to things like distribution and development.

Improved Patient Engagement and Communication

Businesses can utilize Big Data to identify new markets and help leaders better understand why a certain type of marketing channel may work well for one group and not another. Marketing teams can create more effective communication and marketing campaigns so that people have the valuable information they need to make better choices regarding their own health.

Know the Challenges and Limitations

Of course, none of this is to say that Big Data in pharmacy is the “silver bullet” that many have been waiting for – far from it. As is true with virtually anything that has to do with technology, there are certain challenges to be addressed and limitations to overcome if professionals are to tap into the full potential of Big Data over the next few years.

Data Privacy and Security Concerns

If people don’t feel like something as sensitive as their personal health data is being adequately protected, they’ll stop believing in the system behind it. That’s why things like compliance are always a top concern for healthcare organizations relying on Big Data – or at least they should be. The type of reputational damage that a data breach can usher in is monumental, to say nothing of the fact that your average healthcare data breach costs approximately $7.13 million on average.

Issues With Integrating Different Data Sources

Big Data is a powerful tool that requires equal access by all key stakeholders to be effective. However, ensuring that insights are not restricted to a particular department and are freely accessible across the entire organization can be challenging for healthcare organizations. This often involves breaking down data silos to facilitate the flow of information.

Specialized Skills and Expertise

Understanding what Big Data is telling you is one thing – acting on it often requires specialized skills and expertise that only certain people possess. That is why, to tap into the full potential of healthcare-related big data, ongoing education and employee training will be integral to the digital transformation process.

Potential High Cost for Implementation and Maintenance

Finally, one of the central challenges of the Big Data revolution ultimately comes down to cost. Most organizations cannot leverage the full benefits with their existing legacy systems – which means a digital transformation effort will be in order. Some research estimates that this process can cost roughly $27.5 million on average, depending on the scope.

That doesn’t take into consideration the ongoing costs of maintaining the system moving forward. Not only do you need people with industry-specific experience to set up and deploy the new system from a hardware and software perspective, but you’ll also need teams of people to maintain the systems, prevent things from going wrong, and act quickly when they do. In a healthcare environment, any unplanned downtime to these systems could potentially delay patient care, preventing people from accessing the medication or treatment they depend on.

In the end, the concept of Big Data in pharmacy may not be new, but a lot of the developments and innovations that are coming out of the space certainly are. From real-time data analysis offering better control over inventory management to efficiency and development helping to eliminate things like adverse drug reactions, it’s easy to see why this is a concept that so many are paying attention to. When you think of how far big data in pharmacy has come in even the last five years, it’s truly exciting to think about what the next five years (and beyond) have in store.

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