The Health Care Industry: Big Data Is Great, But We Can't Find Enough Talent

Eighty-four percent say they have trouble finding staff who can crunch big numbers and get actionable results.

A new survey out from the Society of Actuaries confirms that leaders in the health care industry anticipate big benefits from big data. Eighty-seven percent agreed that big data will impact the business in the future, and 66% say they are "excited" about the future potential.

But while the industry may be excited about big data's prospects, many say the era of big data isn't quite here yet. The reason: a lack of talent.

Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they'd had at least some difficulty finding staff with the technical qualifications to handle large datasets. Forty-five percent said they'd be looking to hire folks with those skills in 2014. Health care is just one crucial example of the need for more data scientists—even the White House recently announced a $37 million university partnership to steer more young people into these fields.

Examples of big data's potential in health care include companies like Dell, which is partnering with children's hospitals to help determine the optimal personalized cancer drug cocktail for each patient—a feat that requires processing 30 terabytes of data, for which the time has now been driven down from months to days. And the Durkheim Project, an attempt to apply predictive analytics to social media to lower the tragically high suicide rate among veterans.

[Image: Flickr user Ruhrfisch]

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