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Dr Tom explains how big data can help tackle some of the big health questions now and in the future

1 September 2017

Big Data - do you know what it is?

It’s an important part of the work that our Data Science Hub do, but do you know what big data is, and the role it might play in helping advance our healthcare systems?

Whilst conceptually complex, put very simply, the term ‘big data’ describes the very large volumes of data - both structured and unstructured - that organisations are now capable of gathering. There are many technological challenges associated with ‘big data’ - for example data capturing and storage, data analysis, data sharing (sometimes between public and private systems), data transfer and updates, and data privacy - but where organisations are able to digitally harness such comprehensive data towards understanding and redressing everyday societal problems, there is widespread recognition of the great benefits that might be reaped.

Data Science Hub lead Dr Thomas Monks believes “most people will have heard about big data, but most people are also scared about it and don’t necessarily understand how we can use it to improve healthcare systems.” Certainly, to solve some of societies’ big problems, big efforts and innovations are necessary; with the significant sums of money invested in such innovations, there’s a real drive to ensure that the associated results are evidenced as far as is feasible. This is where big data comes in.

Read more about big data and how it’s changing healthcare here, and here’s a link to an associated article ‘Quantified self to quantified health: how tech helps doctors fill gaps in patient records’.

Building capacity for academic writing.. by Professor Anne Rogers

‘publication tsunami that is now an exponential wave’. The effects of this tsunami are well rehearsed: the enormous pressure on peer review processes; reduction in the time researchers have to read individual outputs; and, perhaps most commented on, the growth of a commercial market of fee-for-publication-based journals which lack the usual bulwarks of scientific credibility read blog >

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