But most hospitals and healthcare systems aren’t ready for big data—not yet, anyway. What's stopping them? Part of the problem is that healthcare data—provider clinical records, payer claims, and pharma research and development, for example—is fragmented. It lies in multiple systems in varied electronic and non-electronic formats and has many owners that often don't share well.
Farzad Mostashari, MD, ONC's national coordinator for health IT, has said repeatedly that the push to get providers to become meaningful users of electronic health records will not only improve quality, patient safety, and care coordination but will also set the groundwork for "massive liberation of patient data."
Patients "have the legal right to access [their] own health information. And that has been the case since HIPAA was written,” he said at a recent ONC town hall event. "The problem is … that’s not always so easy.” Doctors and other providers are "not too thrilled" to share data, in part because they think it will mean more work and in part because providers feel a proprietary ownership of patient data, he said.
It’s “not just a technical problem but a mindset problem,” he said.
Without that massive liberation of data—and a change in attitude about who owns it—big data for healthcare will remain a big missed opportunity.