Presenting data has become a necessary part of business operations, but the art of data visualization extends far beyond when big data appeared as the next buzzword in the industry. Information has helped medical professionals head off epidemics and prepare for diseases before they spread. In a recent London exhibit, data reporting tools took center stage as viewers learned about how the technology has progressed from its original state to how it's used today.
While using statistics has been a recurring element throughout history, it's often noted that with software, organizations can truly gain actionable insights. But the British Library exhibit Beautiful Science showed how scientists in the 1850s - like William Farr and John Snow - plotted mortality statistics on graphs to finally discover the source of the cholera epidemic, Forbes contributor Jonathon Keats reported. Although medical professionals now have the benefit of stores of data and tools that lead to faster conclusions, the limited scope of the Victorian maps still makes them relevant even with the emergence of cloud computing. While researchers took different approaches to map out the wave of cholera, the charts have helped create contemporary report designer trends and influenced how the information is viewed.
"[John] Snow's maps are essentially infographics, powerful rhetorical tools that compel a specific interpretation based on the narrowness of what they represent," Keats wrote. "[William] Farr's multidimensional charts impose no such constraints. They're more challenging in every respect."
Using big data to treat medical conditions
Healthcare thrives on data to create opportunities for advancement and innovative treatments. Big data has improved cancer genomics by using pieces from different sources to identify factors that trigger the disease, according to CIO Australia. Having this amount of data from a variety of connections will ensure that numerous factors are taken into account, allowing for more accurate metrics and actionable insights.
While there are significant federal policies in place that could limit open source availability of the data, researchers must consider this before setting out in order use the information. These regulations could prevent scientists from publishing their work or may stop the project from the beginning. However, with approval for the investigation, important studies will be able to narrow down the causes of dangerous diseases. The accessibility of the data will also ensure that work can proceed without too much interference in healthcare operations or patient treatment.
"It becomes a data mining task rather than a more traditional scientific study which takes a lot longer," Intersect CEO Dr. Ian Gibson told the source. "We're in a position for people to speculate, and use computers to test a theory very quickly without disturbing anybody before moving on."
Reporting tools have been significant assets to the healthcare industry long before big data was conceptualized as a keyword. As time progresses, data visualization processes will evolve to become more technical and provide insights that will improve patient care while also creating successful treatment options.