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April 3, 2013

The Inevitable Application of Big Data to Health Care

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Gastroenterology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Dr Murdoch); Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, and Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Detsky).

JAMA. 2013;309(13):1351-1352. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.393

The amount of data being digitally collected and stored is vast and expanding rapidly. As a result, the science of data management and analysis is also advancing to enable organizations to convert this vast resource into information and knowledge that helps them achieve their objectives. Computer scientists have invented the term big data to describe this evolving technology. Big data has been successfully used in astronomy (eg, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey of telescopic information), retail sales (eg, Walmart's expansive number of transactions), search engines (eg, Google's customization of individual searches based on previous web data), and politics (eg, a campaign's focus of political advertisements on people most likely to support their candidate based on web searches).

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