Big data analytics in health is an emerging area due to the urgent need to derive actionable intelligence from the large volumes of healthcare data to efficiently manage the healthcare system and to improve health outcomes. In this paper we present a ‘big’ healthcare data analytics platform—termed as Healthcare Analytics for Intelligence and Learning (HAIL)—that is an end-to-end healthcare data analytics solution to derive data-driven actionable intelligence and situational awareness to inform and transform health decision-making, systems management and policy development. The innovative aspects of HAIL are: (a) the integration of data-driven and knowledge-driven analytics approaches, (b) a sand-box environment for healthcare analysts to develop and test health policy/process models by exploiting a range of data preparation, analytical and visualization methods, (c) the incorporation of specialized healthcare data standards, terminologies and concept maps to support data analytics, and (d) text analytics to analyze unstructured healthcare data. The architecture of HAIL comprises the following four main modules (fig 1): (A) Health Data Integration module that entails a semantics-based metadata manager to synthesize health data originating from a range of healthcare institutions to formulate a rich contextualized data resource. The data integration is achieved through ETL workflows designed by health analysts and researchers, (B) Health Analytics Module provides a range of healthcare analytics capabilities including, (i) Exploratory Analytics using data mining to perform data clustering, classification and association tasks, (ii) Predictive Analytics to predict future trends/outcomes derived from past observations of the healthcare processes, (iii) Text Analytics to analyze unstructured texts (such as clinical notes, discharge summaries, referral notes, clinical guidelines, etc.), (iv) Simulation-based Analytics to simulate what-if questions based on simulation models, (v) Workflow analytics to interact with modeled clinical workflows to understand the affects of various confounding factors, (vi) Semantic Analytics to infer contextualized relationships, anomalies and deviations through reasoning over a semantic health data model, and (vii) Informational Analytics to present summaries, aggregations, charts and reports, (C) Data Visualization Module offers a range of interactive data visualizations, such as geospatial visualizations, causal networks, 2D and 3D graphs, pattern clusters and interactive visualizations to explore high dimensional data, (D) Data Analytics Workbench is an interactive workspace to enable data health analysts to specify and set-up their analytics process in terms of data preparation, selection and set-up of analytical methods and the selection of visualization methods. Using the workbench analysts can design sophisticated data analytics workflows/models using a range of data integration, analytical and visualization methods. The HAIL platform is available via a web portal and the desktop application, and it is deployed on a cloud infrastructure. HAIL can be connected with existing health data sources to provide front-end data analytics. Fig 2 shows the technical architecture. The HAIL platform has been applied to analyze a real-life clinical healthcare situations using actual data from the provincial clinical data warehouse. We will present two case studies of the use of HAIL. In conclusion, the HAIL platform addresses a critical need for healthcare analytics to impact health decision-making, systems management and policy development.


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