Is more data always better?

If you had to choose the one idea driving the HIT transition, it would probably be along the lines of, “Information is good, and more information is better.”

But is that always true?

This regular observer takes on that question in the context of what she calls “Big Data”, which, roughly, is the move by big-name companies to get in the game of collecting, storing and sharing health information.

On the plus, she notes the potential savings that could be realized from the digitization of health data. Specifically, she points to a recent McKinsey report that “is predicting $300 billion per year in savings due to utilization of Big Data to drive the execution of strategies proposed by health care experts. In the area of clinical operations, the report lists projected savings from Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) when tied to insurance coverage, Clinical Decision Support (CDS) savings derived from delegating work to lower paid resources and from reductions in adverse events, transparency for consumers in the form of quality reports for physicians and hospitals, home monitoring devices including pills that report back when they are ingested, and profiling patients for managed care interventions. Administrative savings are projected from automated systems to detect and reduce fraud and from shifting to outcomes based reimbursement for providers and, interestingly, for drug manufacturers through collective bargaining by insurers.”

It remains an open question whether those savings will actually add up quite as much as the report claims, but an even more important question concerns the potential downside of all that data.

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