Is Big Data Already Outpacing Health IT?

Diana Manos | Government Health IT | February 11, 2014

Call it super-mega big data. Taking just one example, cancer research, highlights how far the healthcare industry has yet to go to actually make sense from the mountains of information that already exist.

The enormous opportunity in this case is precision management of human cancers. Indeed, the ability to study cancerous tumors on the genetic level and formulate trends on how to treat and cure the disease are within grasp, said Joe Gray, associate director for translational research at the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University.

Genomic cancer study today is exciting because it offers the ability to optimize treatment for an individual, Gray said at the Health Care Innovation Summit in Washington, DC last week. Once the genetic features of a cancer are known, doctors could scan a cancer patient’s whole body for the genetic material of that cancer, finding where it might have spread, or is in the process of spreading. And in theory, researcher and doctors could then find what treatment is best suited to the patient and how treatment could be best combined to get durable responses.