The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Can Cloud-based Services be used to transform healthcare data into actionable information?

I was reading an article this morning on Healthcare 2.0 and it brought to mind the concept of using the Cloud Services to transform healthcare data into actionable information. 


Shane Robison wrote:   “making a real difference in health care is not about expensive new technologies like robots performing surgery or treatments and unnecessary tests. It’s about getting the right information to the right place at the right time.”  


In the era of paper records, which persists today, conversion of healthcare data typically involves time-consuming human review of records and recording data into a usable format (previously other paper formats, now electronic spreadsheets). Collection usually involves reading handwritten notes, interpreting the notes and converting them into usable data, and entering data into appropriate tools. Each of these steps contributes an element of error and adds to personnel time and costs.


Transforming “Healthcare Data” into “Healthcare Information” could be a problem solved by a cloud computing service. What is needed is a way to automatically extract Electronic Health Record (EHR) consumable information from free text. The capabilities needed:


  • String matching - also called key word searching, is a simple, often effective approach to detect various medical terms
  • Natural language processing (NLP)  - capable of scanning text documents and applying syntactic and semantic rules to extract information
  • Concept-based indexing utilizes large-scale, organized collections of health concepts known as ontologies to identify and cluster similar findings within free text

Information is the greatest resource available to us in the 21st century. With the right technology, we can transform data from the past into meaningful information to improve patient health and safety in the future.

Let’s hear your thoughts.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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