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Int J Med Inform. 2018 Jun;114:57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2018.03.013. Epub 2018 Mar 26.

Concurrence of big data analytics and healthcare: A systematic review.

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Symbiosis International University, Pune, India. Electronic address:
Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune, India.



The application of Big Data analytics in healthcare has immense potential for improving the quality of care, reducing waste and error, and reducing the cost of care.


This systematic review of literature aims to determine the scope of Big Data analytics in healthcare including its applications and challenges in its adoption in healthcare. It also intends to identify the strategies to overcome the challenges.


A systematic search of the articles was carried out on five major scientific databases: ScienceDirect, PubMed, Emerald, IEEE Xplore and Taylor & Francis. The articles on Big Data analytics in healthcare published in English language literature from January 2013 to January 2018 were considered.


Descriptive articles and usability studies of Big Data analytics in healthcare and medicine were selected.


Two reviewers independently extracted information on definitions of Big Data analytics; sources and applications of Big Data analytics in healthcare; challenges and strategies to overcome the challenges in healthcare.


A total of 58 articles were selected as per the inclusion criteria and analyzed. The analyses of these articles found that: (1) researchers lack consensus about the operational definition of Big Data in healthcare; (2) Big Data in healthcare comes from the internal sources within the hospitals or clinics as well external sources including government, laboratories, pharma companies, data aggregators, medical journals etc.; (3) natural language processing (NLP) is most widely used Big Data analytical technique for healthcare and most of the processing tools used for analytics are based on Hadoop; (4) Big Data analytics finds its application for clinical decision support; optimization of clinical operations and reduction of cost of care (5) major challenge in adoption of Big Data analytics is non-availability of evidence of its practical benefits in healthcare.


This review study unveils that there is a paucity of information on evidence of real-world use of Big Data analytics in healthcare. This is because, the usability studies have considered only qualitative approach which describes potential benefits but does not take into account the quantitative study. Also, majority of the studies were from developed countries which brings out the need for promotion of research on Healthcare Big Data analytics in developing countries.


Analytics; Big data; Evidence-based medicine; Healthcare; Predictive analytics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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