With the broader availability of data from electronic health records, the secondary use of this rich clinical data presents the opportunity for data mining. However, data mining has received negative press when used by pharmaceutical companies to monitor physician prescribing patterns.
In many industries, mining of Big Data has become a profitable source for business intelligence. Everything from financial trends to social media sentiment analysis is game. With the ability to search personal data through new tools like Facebook’s Graph Search and increasingly targeted marketing based on huge databases of personal data, the concept of data mining is becoming synonymous with invading privacy.
In health care, the expanding use of EHRs creates opportunities for secondary use of health data collected at the point of care. Such data are unique in that they enable data mining of real-world clinical practice on millions of patients in large health systems. Unlike data collected in the carefully structured setting of a clinical trial, large groups of patients can be studied retrospectively as were treated for a variety of conditions.
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