Open Health Innovations


The Power of "Little Data"

Posted by David Richards on June 10, 2020, 10:05 PM EDT
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Many sectors like healthcare over-engineer given their obsession with "Big Data". This stifles innovation and consumers pay the price

The world is rightly taken with “big data,” the hopes it elicits and the systems and technologies that make it possible.  Healthcare executives are not immune to these charms, and in fact many are consumed by them. The possibility of better forecasting and responding to epidemics, developing new and novel gene-therapy treatments, and identifying disturbing trends in population health all offer huge benefits to society when successful.  And with 18% of the US economy dedicated to healthcare, a lot of dollars flow in that direction.

But Big Data is not a panacea.  Nor is it even necessary for alleviating a huge number of narrower, discreet problems that impact people’s lives on an every day basis.  Problems that are solvable with what we think of as “little data” solutions and provided "at the edge" by more nimble innovators. 

Little Data supported by light weight, affordable systems and in combination with best practices and lower skilled (and therefore lower cost) health professionals can address a wide range of common problems.  Challenges that touch consumers everyday in millions and millions of instances.  Like:

  • Providing a digital copy of Aunt Betty’s hospital discharge papers so the neighbor helping with the all important first night home can confidently and properly administer pain meds.
  • Alerting the caregiving team supporting Bob in his recovery from substance abuse that his random drug test came back positive.  Then, automatically connecting them through video conferencing with a trained counselor for immediate advice as to next steps. 
  • Informing a family that the blurred vision dad is experiencing is a common side effect of the new drug he’s on (and which he failed to mention) and thus a costly visit to the ER isn’t necessary.  
  • Reminding siblings that mom’s chemotherapy was today and that a call, email or text might have as much impact as the anti-depressant some want to put her on.
  • Coordinating a ride sharing program for the regional children’s hospital so families making the daily trek can do so more affordably as well as find companionship for these draining trips.  

Payers, providers and pharma are not the only entities in healthcare able to solve problems like the ones mentioned above. In fact, such challenges are generally more cost effectively provided when the solutions are supported in combination with smaller, more nimble market players. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case today.  Most Little Data solutions never get off the shelve because the prevailing paradigm is they must be in the domain of providers, payers or pharma. What can be lighter weight offerings when done "at the edge" are costly to build and maintain when required to do so on top of a provider or payer’s legacy environments.

Open Health Innovation's enterprise-class and cloud-based architecture was designed specifically to facilitate the building of inexpensive solutions to fill such gaps.

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