Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

Providers still struggling to make effective use of Big Data

March 27, 2017 AT 9:14 PM

Big Data is everywhere, but what do you do with it?

Despite all the talk about Big Data, in recent years, that question still haunts no small number of healthcare executives who don’t know where to start when it comes to putting data to use to improve care and reduce healthcare costs.

As Leonard D’Avolio, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and CEO of health IT vendor Cyft, recently put it to HealthcareIT News, “The excitement and anticipation of the potential of Big Data technologies and approaches is probably equally matched by the ambiguity, confusion and hype surrounding what these technologies are."

In his view, healthcare stakeholders should be reviewing the boom and bust experiences of the dotcom era to learn about capitalizing on new technologies quickly. 

“What we learned from that, after the necessary growing pains of wasting billions of dollars trying to jam what is in effect new ways of doing business into existing companies without a very exact focus on the problem you are trying to solve and careful consideration of the existing constraints and workflows, is that you are very likely to end up basically running around with a hammer assuming every problem is a nail.”

What’s necessary, he said, is careful consideration of emerging best practices that include expert project management and agreed-upon deliverables.

D’Avolio will discuss both the challenges of Big Data and some of those emerging best practices in a keynote address at the HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum, May 15-16, 2017, in San Francisco, during a session entitled “Hype and Disappointment on the Way to Healthcare’s Promised Land.”