How Quantum Computing Supremacy is Impacting Healthcare Analytics

By Týr Dustin Miranda, CSSBB | Sr. Consultant | March 3, 2020

Analytics in healthcare is now commonplace. Almost everybody is utilizing some form of analytics, whether it be population health software, or even instituting an organization-wide quality management department within a hospital or health system to measure the health outcomes the organization is striving for. In fact, nowadays healthcare analytics is an expected necessity in the healthcare industry.

While software definitely makes analyzing and computing collected data easier, the healthcare organization as a whole is starting to look at this data and trying to understand what it means on a deeper level to change how services are delivered.

However, what is new and emerging is how powerful our current data analytical tools and algorithms are. New leaps in the field of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and computing itself may lead to some truly monumental changes and improvements in the healthcare landscape within the next couple of years.

Today, we are taking a look at what is new in data analytics and precisely how these advances will impact the healthcare industry, in particular.

Shattering Ceilings in Analytics

New technology recently came out of the mind labs at Google. In October 2019, Google achieved quantum computing supremacy.

According to Delia Paunescu at Vox, quantum computing supremacy occurs “when a quantum computer — one that runs on the laws of quantum physics as opposed to the classical computers we’re familiar with (i.e. phones and laptops), which run on classical physics like Newton’s laws of motion — does something that no conventional computer could do in a reasonable amount of time.”

Other technology companies and corporations have been working on quantum computing and increasing its capability and capacity for decades. For context, Google claims that it can now solve a problem in 2.5 days when “the world’s current fastest classical computer — one called Summit owned by IBM that’s as big as two basketball courts — would take 10,000 years to solve that same problem.”

While numerous companies have been scrambling to be first in the tech world, Google was the first to hit that mark at the beginning of 2019’s fourth quarter.

Implications for Healthcare Analytics

How these breakthroughs in quantum computing supremacy will affect healthcare are, as of yet, unimaginable – simply because the possibilities are endless.

Assuming these advances in healthcare analytics are not cost-prohibitive, quantum computing supremacy could fundamentally change how healthcare organizations capture data, crunch data, and apply analytical interpretations to have a real-world impact on both healthcare organizations and patients.

Some of these new quantum computing technologies can be utilized to build new applications that would significantly increase the speed and accuracy with which computers are able to deploy algorithms and identify patterns in patient health or risk factors.

Ultimately, with faster computing technology comes faster, better, and more capable healthcare analytics.

New (Big) Competitors on the Block

One of the most limiting factors affecting whether or not quantum computing will become available to the healthcare industry is cost. The technology is so new that there is currently not enough data to determine the cost-efficacy of quantum computing.

If enough healthcare organizations and insurers across the nation start leveraging some of the beneficial applications of quantum computing, the impact could be massive. However, it is possible that such technology will be out of reach for the current leaders of the healthcare industry or that the technology may become proprietary to a bigger contender.

Companies like Google and Amazon – the latter of which is already proposing getting into the healthcare business – have enough money to fund pilot projects that apply quantum computing supremacy to healthcare service. If one of these business moguls decides to be the new number one healthcare provider, they have these unparalleled tools at their disposal.

If We Get to Play Ball

If the healthcare industry as we know it is not priced out of the quantum computing game, there could be big jumps on the horizon in the way we utilize algorithms within the hospital setting or within the system of insurers.

Healthcare insurers are currently the biggest collectors of healthcare data and information. Utilizing this new technology will allow the insurers to dramatically improve the application of predictive analytics to see who will be impacted by factors such as socioeconomic changes or any sort of social determinant of health to predict when a specific subset of the population is going to, for example, come into the ER or require urgent care.

As a result, healthcare organizations will be able to be more prepared, to predict increases in healthcare costs, and to brace themselves for an increase in inpatient care, for instance. Predictive analytics will become mindbogglingly accurate when powered by quantum computing because these healthcare analytics tools will be taking a massive amount of data and information and crunching that in ways that our current computers cannot.

Such immense data recognition and computing power could change how hospitals and health insurance companies look at their patients and, therefore, change the services offered based upon that new quantum computing technology.

As of yet, it is too early to determine when or how big of an impact Google’s new quantum computing supremacy will have on the healthcare industry. However, with such monumental leaps forward, the ripples of change will inevitably touch all corners of the industry.

Not only does quantum computing open up massive new doors in terms of understanding population health, but the implications could expand to impact highly technical developments such as surgical procedures, robotics in healthcare, and artificial intelligence.

Therefore, the responsibility is on us as leaders in the healthcare world to understand the possibilities and the potential opportunities we will have to advance healthcare.

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