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JMIR Med Inform. 2014 Aug 22;2(2):e22. doi: 10.2196/medinform.3447.

Making big data useful for health care: a summary of the inaugural mit critical data conference.

Author information

MIT Critical Data Conference 2014 Organizing Committee, Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States.


With growing concerns that big data will only augment the problem of unreliable research, the Laboratory of Computational Physiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology organized the Critical Data Conference in January 2014. Thought leaders from academia, government, and industry across disciplines-including clinical medicine, computer science, public health, informatics, biomedical research, health technology, statistics, and epidemiology-gathered and discussed the pitfalls and challenges of big data in health care. The key message from the conference is that the value of large amounts of data hinges on the ability of researchers to share data, methodologies, and findings in an open setting. If empirical value is to be from the analysis of retrospective data, groups must continuously work together on similar problems to create more effective peer review. This will lead to improvement in methodology and quality, with each iteration of analysis resulting in more reliability.


big data; knowledge creation; machine learning; open data; unreliable research

Conflict of interest statement

Omar Badawi is senior clinical scientist at Philips Healthcare. Christopher Moses is founder and CEO of Smart Scheduling, Inc. Louis Mayaud is research director of Mensia Technologies SA. Thomas Brennan is data scientist at AthenaHealth Research.

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