- Autonomy, a provider of "meaning-based technology," to make sense of unstructured data to draw business value. Feldman says it does probabilistic search and inferencing, as well as content management and is moving into the e-discovery area.
- Vertica, an analytics platform provider bought by HP last year, is another. Its features include real-time loading and querying, analytics, data compression and columnar storing and execution capabilities.
- Oracle, which offers "less in the way of linguistic capabilities" has strong search functionality and content management, Feldman says. Oracle recently bought Endeca, a platform provider to store, manage, search and analyze both structured and unstructured information.
- EMC, which sports an assemblage of technologies -- including, of course, storage.
Feldman says other vendors that have pieces of the technology to pull together unstructured information into an "answer machine" include Microsoft Research, as well as SAP and SAS.
- Esther Shein
It's not just healthcare that is on the verge of benefiting from predictive analytics. Other industries that struggle with vast amounts of ongoing data where this type of technology makes sense include finance, emergency response, entertainment and the legal field, to name a few. (See sidebar.)
Society is "on the cusp of being able to do more than ever before, and support decision-making in ways that have not been possible before," says Dr. Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale University and a physician who is also involved in big-data research projects with large hospital consortia.
That said, however, specific results will be up to watchful physicians to ensure, he warns. "Those claims about being able to improve medicine ... have to be looked at carefully. The question is: What do people do with the information" from these systems?
"If wrong decisions are made based on [incorrect] assumptions about information, they won't obviously provide any value and could [instead] be harmful," Krumholz says.
Fewer sick babies
Back in Toronto, the hospital is processing its data in real time using IBM's InfoSphere Streams , software that can correlate and analyze thousands of real-time data sources. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) is using the software to collect streaming data from electronic devices that monitor the premature babies.
The technology is giving UOIT the ability to make sense of the data and analyze it in ways that include, they hope, discovering the onset of sepsis and various other conditions before these problems occur, says Dr. Carolyn McGregor, the Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics at UOIT.