Big Data Sparks a Quest for Simplicity

Scott Mace, December 18, 2012

As the year comes to a close, I've got simplicity on my mind.

The data tsunami is just beginning to hit healthcare. As I wrote almost a year ago, just enough technology should be our goal. But we also need to identify just enough data. That will be a much more difficult goal to achieve.

Big data is everywhere we turn. But big data requires big technology to analyze and make actionable. As one vendor quipped, what we really need is small data, the data that matters most.

The clinical quality measures coming down in Meaningful Use Stage 2—and now out for public comment, Meaningful Use Stage 3—are healthcare's version of the Amazon wish list, and if we're not careful, they will overwhelm fledgling efforts to find that actionable data.

The end of the year is a great time to pause and ask ourselves whether we are trying to gather too much data too fast, without having a real action plan.

What are some of the things we need to do the most? Some of these things are so rudimentary; they are hardly being discussed at all.

Take just one example: Electronic medical records. Electronic health records. Are they one and the same?

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.


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