Why policymakers should care about “big data” in healthcare

David W. Bates, Axel Heitmueller, Meetali Kakad, Suchi Saria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term “big data” has gotten increasing popular attention, and there is growing focus on how such data can be used to measure and improve health and healthcare. Analytic techniques for extracting information from these data have grown vastly more powerful, and they are now broadly available. But for these approaches to be most useful, large amounts of data must be available, and barriers to use should be low. We discuss how “smart cities” are beginning to invest in this area to improve the health of their populations; provide examples around model approaches for making large quantities of data available to researchers and clinicians among other stakeholders; discuss the current state of big data approaches to improve clinical care including specific examples, and then discuss some of the policy issues around and examples of successful regulatory approaches, including deidentification and privacy protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Policy and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Analytics
  • Clinical care
  • Costs
  • Electronic health records
  • Health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Policy


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