...Those who think that analytics on big health data can save the US healthcare system are basically saying that the distance between the little red dot and the big blue blob in my plot above can be transversed through the application of big data analytics. Honestly, this suggests the answer is "no".

Most data analysts are like me in that they wish the answer was "yes". The point I want to make is that the answer may actually be "yes" - depending on how we define "big data analytics" when we approach US healthcare. For example, Medicare policy now reduces payments by 1% for hospitals found to have high rates of hospital-acquired conditions in their patients. A policy like this could not have been crafted without the benefit of a body of scientific literature about rates and causes of hospital-acquired conditions - in other words, "big data analytics" that is actually useful for making health care decisions about the system, not about individual patients.

If all of the wealth and energy currently being directed toward "big data analytics" in healthcare is directed toward improving health policy instead of making sexy baubles, it might just save US healthcare - one analysis at a time.

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