Home » Health IT »PSQH » Currently Reading:

Big Data Drives Big Change

January 6, 2012 Health IT, PSQH No Comments

The digital age is the age of big data where every piece of technology captures data available for later use. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) describes data generated in this way as digital “exhaust data,” data that are created as a by-product of other activities.

The rapid expansion in the use of EMRs and digitally-driven technology—MRI scanners, body sensors, automated lab tests—brings the era of big data to healthcare. MGI estimates that big data presents a $300 billion potential annual value to the U.S. healthcare system. The five broad areas to deliver that value are: 1) clinical operations, 2) payment/pricing, 3) R&D, 4) new business models, and 5) public health. Sub-areas include comparative effectiveness research (CER), clinical decision support, remote patient monitoring, health economics, and personalized medicine.

The four large data sources for healthcare include clinical, pharmaceutical, administrative, and consumer.

New analytic tools such as Semantic Web 3.0linked data—offer ways for machines to analyze these data sets leveraging approaches impossible using standard relational databases and statistical methodologies. These new tools permit researchers to work around the barriers presented by data sets’ non-conformance to standards for data collection or storage.

Similar to the use of metadata, Semantic Web techniques allow the assignment of descriptors to each data point, providing a context and meaning to the data. This allows machines, applying powerful statistical techniques, to analyze the disparate data sets in ways not available to humans alone due to the data sets’ size and complexity.

Organizations that properly collect, analyze, and utilize big data will achieve a significant competitive advantage over those organizations that fail to recognize the opportunity big data presents.

Excerpts from: Big Data Drives Big Change. PSQH, January/February 2012

Photo Courtesy of  Don Guerwitz PhotographySahara Dunes. Niger River, Mali

Comment on this Article:


DocsNetwork Events

Healthcare Blogs

Health IT Organizations

  • Aventura - Aventura provides on-the-go clinicians with split-second access to the right patient information from any workstation in the hospital.
  • Infor - Provides clinical, analytic, integration, and financial solutions to the healthcare marketplace.
  • Rash, and Rashes The Art of Skin Diagnosis – SkinSight - “Rash, and Rashes The Art of Skin Diagnosis” is an open access connected to diagnostic decision support. The tutorial is a wonderful example of augmenting traditional classroom medical education with sustainable HIT and decision support.
  • Clinical Decision Support – Logical Images - Online diagnostic clinical decision support website developed for clinicians providing direct patient care.
  • HIMSS - Health Information Management Systems Society
  • HIMSS Europe - HIMSS Europe and World of Health IT
  • AMIA - American Medical Informatics Association


  • PSQH - Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare Journal
  • WTN Media - Wisconsin Technology Network


  • Logical Images - Logical Images develops visual medical technology and resources that increase diagnostic accuracy, enhance medical education, and heighten patient knowledge.
  • Don Gurewitz Photography - – Internationally recognized travel photographer offering unique specially printed limited edition photographs.

Past Events