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The Goals and Obstacles of Mining EHRs

BIG DATA—U.S.

January 16, 2013

The New York Times reports on the mining of electronic health records (EHRs) by researchers, which, according to some scientists, has “the potential to make every patient a participant in a vast, ongoing clinical trial, pinpointing treatments and side effects that would be hard to discern from anecdotal case reports or expensive clinical trials.” One expert said, “The sheer volume and the richness of the data will enable us to have insights that are beyond anything we could have had any other way.” The biggest challenge to the mining of EHRs is the de-identification of the records to protect patient privacy, and in many cases, de-identified EHRs exist in several databases, potentially complicating the accuracy of research, the report states. (Registration may be required to access this story.) Editor’s Note: The breakout session Big Data, Not Big Brother: Best Practices for Data Analytics will be part of the Global Privacy Summit in Washington, DC, this March.
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