Benefits of Data Mining in Healthcare

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

Data Mining is exactly what it sounds like - mining the ocean of data we have to obtain meaningful conclusions. Healthcare is only one of many industries benefiting from data mining. In this lesson, we'll learn what data mining is, its advantages and how it is applied to the healthcare industry.

Bringing Order to Chaos

We collect information on everything these days. We're good at that. We count the number of people that use public transit. We count the number of items you purchase at the grocery store. And your family Doctor even keeps records of your regular visits, and your blood work. But wouldn't it be nice if we could take that a step further, and derive some useful meaning from the information? Certainly, and that's where data mining can help.

What is Data Mining?

Data mining is a discovery process. It examines, organizes, and recognizes patterns in, large information sets. It involves a number of technical disciplines including general computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, database technology, and statistics. Its ultimate goal is to derive conclusions from seemingly random sets of data. Let's look at a simple example.

Say we have the following set of numbers: 4, 2, 0, 8, 16. They look random, but are they? Let's organize (sort) them from the smallest to largest. This gives us 0, 2, 4, 8, 16. Now, let's look for a pattern. Careful examination reveals that these numbers are a sequence.

To be specific, this pattern follows the integer powers of 2. 2 to the power of 0 is 0, 2 to the power of 1 is 2, 2 to the power of 2 is 4, 2 to the power of 3 is 8, and 2 to the power of 4 is 16. So, the conclusion that can be drawn is that this sequence is the integer powers of 2. We can even take that a step further and predict that the next number in the sequence would be 32 (2 to the power of 5). Granted, this example is trivial, but you get the idea.

What Are the Benefits of Data Mining?

As we saw in the example, there are a few benefits to data mining. First, it can bring order to something that is initially chaotic (through sorting). Second, we can determine a pattern which, in this case, is our initial conclusion (a sequence of integer powers). And lastly, we can generate additional conclusions. In the example, we predicted the next number in the sequence (2 to the power of 5 is 32). This can be very powerful, and we'll see how in the next section.

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