20110426 digital data computer privacy footprint
An outline of a man and digital data. Mining individuals' health data is becoming a serious option for optimizing care and cutting costs. - 

In the debate over improving American healthcare, one issue that has come into focus is how hospital record-keeping is largely stuck in the past. It's something Dr. David Bates, Senior Vice President for Quality and Safety at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has thought a lot about. He recently published a study on the most effective ways hospitals should be using big data to reduce healthcare costs.

According to Bates, one of the major elements of a big data approach is having an algorithm.

“A triage algorithm is a tool that helps you predict how sick a someone is going to be,” he said.

One of the bigger issues that’s prevented the implementation of these strategies is hospital record-keeping procedures.

Two years ago, only 20 percent of hospitals in the US were using electronic records. Now, the number is 80 percent. However, electronic records don’t equal big data approaches; the data itself still needs to be analyzed.  

Follow Ben Johnson at @@TheBrockJohnson