Big Data in Medicine

If machine learning is the process by which machines can be taught, then big data is the instructor that provides the materials. Machine learning algorithms need large quantities of data to function properly and advances in storage capacity, network communications, information-sensing devices, digital cameras, and mobile devices have expanded the volume and variety of data that we have available to work with.

In healthcare, data may not always reach the petabyte scale but big data isn’t just about the size of the data available, it is also about the analysis techniques required to process it. Pulling together unstructured data from the EHR and putting it alongside claims data, demographic information, and data streamed from portable devices makes for a complex, rich data landscape for healthcare to operate in.