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Big Data, Big Problems: A Healthcare Perspective.

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College of Public Health and Health Informatics, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University, for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
School of Health Information Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada.


Much has been written on the benefits of big data for healthcare such as improving patient outcomes, public health surveillance, and healthcare policy decisions. Over the past five years, Big Data, and the data sciences field in general, has been hyped as the "Holy Grail" for the healthcare industry promising a more efficient healthcare system with the promise of improved healthcare outcomes. However, more recently, healthcare researchers are exposing the potential and harmful effects Big Data can have on patient care associating it with increased medical costs, patient mortality, and misguided decision making by clinicians and healthcare policy makers. In this paper, we review the current Big Data trends with a specific focus on the inadvertent negative impacts that Big Data could have on healthcare, in general, and specifically, as it relates to patient and clinical care. Our study results show that although Big Data is built up to be as a the "Holy Grail" for healthcare, small data techniques using traditional statistical methods are, in many cases, more accurate and can lead to more improved healthcare outcomes than Big Data methods. In sum, Big Data for healthcare may cause more problems for the healthcare industry than solutions, and in short, when it comes to the use of data in healthcare, "size isn't everything."


Big Data; Challenges; Costs; Healthcare; Opportunities

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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