The Healthcare sector is heavily relying on the use of data to make significant changes in recent years. Data-based changes help healthcare systems to predict risks, plan for prevention, and recovery strategies to minimize losses. The use of big data and data mining enables healthcare facilities to detect infectious outbreaks and find their solutions before they become a problem to an institution. Thus, data-based changes give health providers insights and preparedness for health-related risks and threats to protect a community.
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Big Data and Data Mining in Healthcare
Big data is a term used to describe hard to manage, either structured or unstructured large volumes of data from various sources. Big data is critical because it helps businesses to stay updated on significant issues that improve decision-making processes in a firm. Big data is characterized by three elements including volume, variety, and velocity (Hebda et al., 2019). The complexity of data summed up by the three factors makes it difficult to process using traditional processing methods. The one interesting concept of big data is a volume that details different sources of data.
Organizations collect data from various sources hence making it possible to attain large volumes of data. While navigating the internet, large volumes of big data are sourced from transactions, social media platforms, videos, audios, industrial equipment, images, and smart devices among others (Hebda et al., 2019). After collection, the high volumes of data are stored in modern storage, such as cloud, Hadoop, and data lakes. Consequently, organizations are forced to use powerful processing machines instead of using laptops (Ristevski & Chen, 2018). The use of large volumes of data in an organization helps in covering all possible sources of useful data.
In healthcare, large volumes of data ensure that the system is well-equipped with all emerging information about health. The information gained from the data analysis give healthcare providers insights that might not be available in patients’ databases (Ristevski & Chen, 2018). In the long run, the increased knowledge helps them to make clinical decisions and prescribe treatments with greater accuracy. Increased accuracy reduces guesswork in service delivery thus enhancing patient care and lowering costs (Ristevski & Chen, 2018). Other benefits of using a higher volume of data include cutting prescription costs, expanding diagnostic services, and improving patient health.
Data mining involves identifying and extracting correlations, anomalies, and patterns of information in large volumes of data. Using a wide range of techniques to draw the patterns, data mining can equally contribute to positive economic development in organizations (Hebda et al., 2019). Despite having big data, organizations may face difficulties using it if they lack perfect data mining techniques. Some of the main techniques used by successful firms include clustering analysis, classification analysis, association rule learning, outlier or anomaly detection, and regression analysis.
Anomaly detection is an interesting aspect of data mining because it detects changes in normal information. While analyzing a set of data, it detects a deviation of the average flow of data or new information. Consequently, this technique indicates that something out of normal has occurred and requires increased attention. It is from such notification that the technique provides actionable and critical information for data analysts (Ristevski & Chen, 2018). In the healthcare sector, this aspect of data mining is used in healthcare monitoring. In health-monitoring systems, data mining aids in retrieving information by detecting emerging trends in health information (Hebda et al., 2019). Consequently, healthcare providers stay alert of new infections and diseases and are ready with methods of prevention or treatment. In general, data mining in health monitoring helps the institutions cut down various costs related to emerging diseases and infections.
Continuity planning is the process of preparing a prevention and recovery system from potential risks and threats of a company. The system is designed to ensure that the business continues running even after encountering a disaster (Hebda et al., 2019). The process protects assets and business personnel by ensuring that their vulnerabilities are corrected. In any organization, continuity planning is about all the risks that could affect the business operations and making it an essential part of the firm’s risk management strategy. Some of the critical risks include cyber-attacks, fire, flood, and theft among others.
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Certain organizations, such as healthcare facilities and financial institutions, are regulated by demanding laws that require them to continue running even after a threat. Consequently, their continuity planning strategies might differ from others to ensure the smooth running of the business at all times (Hebda et al., 2019). To do that, risks are determined and corresponding planning is initiated. While preparing the plan, several aspects are considered to ensure the proper functioning and reliability of the plan.
The organization must determine how the potential risk might affect its operations. Respective implementation procedures should then follow to safeguard and reduce the risks (Datta & Nwankpa, 2021). The procedures should be tested to ensure that they properly work and are reliable during a crisis. Lastly, the planning process should be reviewed from time to time to keep the process up to date (Datta & Nwankpa, 2021). Continuity planning is crucial for any business because disruptions and threats mean losses and reduced revenues. A healthcare facility would require a more sophisticated planning process to ensure continuity after a crisis.
In a healthcare institution, I work, I would recommend an IT preparedness program in readiness for cyber-attacks and threats. The program would ensure that all cyber-related risks are identified and corresponding safeguarding plans are identified. The first step of this program would be identifying potential risks against the healthcare data (Hebda et al., 2019). Some of the potential risks for the hospital include loss of data, data theft, and manipulation of patient information among others. A potential prevention and recovery system to operate during cyber-attacks would be developed.
Some of the preventative measures to be adopted in the healthcare system include the use of firewalls, establishing a security culture, protecting mobile devices, maintaining good computer habits, and use of anti-virus software. Other significant measures would include controlling the access to patient information and general health information and the use of strong passwords that are regularly changed (Hebda et al., 2019). Implementing these precaution measures requires employee training especially on how to recognize a potential cyber threat.
These precautious procedures are to be practiced every day to ensure that they work properly in the protection of cyber threats. In readiness to solve a threat, the organization should have a white hat hacker to regularly identify system vulnerability and have hack a way out of an attack (Hebda et al., 2019). Finally, the reviewing of this planning process would include a regular update of software and passwords to ensure they are reliable for the continued security of the firm.
The article “Information Technology in Nursing Education: Perspectives of Student Nurses” by Singh and Masango (2020) discusses the benefits and challenges of IT in nursing education from a student perspective. According to the results of the study, IT knowledge is important in nursing education (Singh & Masango, 2020). IT improves the quality of care delivered to patients by increasing the level of accuracy in tests and prescriptions.
Another benefit is that applying IT in nursing education makes work easier compared to doing it manually. All nursing processes that were done manually are done through technology today thus reducing the effort used. IT also affords access to reach of knowledge in the nursing field, clarifies unclear information, facilitates learning, and improves clinical and theoretical performance. Other benefits include reducing students’ dependence on a lecturer and offering njoyable learning activities.
One of the major challenges recorded in the study was that insufficient training could make utilization of IT in nursing education a problem. Students with little to no training for the use of IT face difficulties to understand various nursing concepts (Singh & Masango, 2020). Another issue is the lack of continued support from the IT in learning. In remote areas, lack of access to the internet or the use of unreliable internet contributes to inadequate support from IT in learning. Accessing IT could also be a problem because the service providers are too expensive to afford (Singh & Masango, 2020). Learning using IT could also be slow due to the usage of outdated devices and students could have limited time to surf or work on a computer. In other words, the limitations are related to professional, legal, financial, technical, and human factors.
The authors recommend several concepts to improve the use of IT in nursing education. One suggestion is intensive IT education and training in nursing programs including refresher courses to ensure continued support. Including informatics modules or IT, training in the nursing curriculum is critical to offer operational IT skills needed (Singh & Masango, 2020). To improve the quality of care, IT training should also be extended to healthcare personnel in clinical settings. Clinical and educational institutions have the responsibility to offer IT training that keeps their personnel at the pace of global trends and technological innovations (Singh & Masango, 2020). A significant recommendation for training facilities is the availability of more computers, other updated devices and faster connectivity to the internet. Continuous exposure to the IT environment will improve practice, build confidence, reduce fear, and promote adoption and acceptance of IT.
Based on the existing benefits and limitations, I feel that the application of IT in nursing education is a viable method of training. Nursing students through the use of technology keep in pace with emerging trends in nursing education and practices. Today’s competitive environment, especially in healthcare provision, requires healthcare providers to grow with advancements in technology (Hebda et al., 2019). It is no point in the clinical advancement of technology if the practitioners are not ready for their use. The global market in the healthcare sector is concerned with the quality of care and meeting patients’ needs. IT equally helps healthcare providers to meet these market requirements hence, it is necessary for nursing students to adopt IT as early as possible.
Data-based changes in healthcare enable the sector to offer quality care based on more informed decisions. Information technology enables the collection of data from old and new sources thus creating a higher level of accuracy in service delivery. The continuity planning process makes it possible for healthcare facilities to keep running even when posed with threats or crises. The application of IT in nursing education is important to keep students informed of the real-world expectations in their careers.
Datta, P., & Nwankpa, J. K. (2021). Digital transformation and the COVID-19 crisis continuity planning. Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 11(2), 81-89. Web.
Hebda, T. L., Hunter, K., & Czar, P. (2019). Handbook of informatics for nurses and health care professionals (6th ed.). Pearson.
Ristevski, B., & Chen, M. (2018). Big data analytics in medicine and healthcare. Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics, 15(3), 1-12. Web.
Singh, F., & Masango, T. (2020). Information technology in nursing education: Perspectives of student nurses. The Open Nursing Journal, 14(1), 18-28. Web.
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