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Big Data: Will It Improve Patient-Centered Care?


Within a generation, empirical researchers have experienced unprecedented increases in the availability of data. ‘Big data’ has arrived with considerable hype and a sense that these are dramatic shifts in the research environment that have wide-reaching implications across many disciplines. There is no doubt that the analysis of new and varied sources of data currently available to researchers in health have the potential to better measure, monitor and describe health outcomes of patients and to uncover interesting patterns in how patients respond to treatments and interact with the health system. What is less clear is whether answers are readily available to more nuanced and substantive research questions. Here, the data-rich environment needs to be complemented by considerable research effort developing novel research designs and generating new and improved methods of analysis. Importantly, this will require researchers to be able to combine data from multiple sources and to be pro-active in data collection.

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Correspondence to Denzil G. Fiebig.

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The author has benefited from discussions with Denise Doiron and Helen Godfrey and from the comments of two anonymous referees and the journal editor, Chris Carswell. The support of the UNSW Business School through the Strategy 2020 Network on “Big Data Modelling for Policy Evaluation” is gratefully acknowledged.

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The author has no conflicts of interest.

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Fiebig, D.G. Big Data: Will It Improve Patient-Centered Care?. Patient 10, 133–139 (2017).

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  • Administrative Data
  • Data Repository
  • Medicaid Coverage
  • Substantive Question
  • Data Deluge