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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Apr 8 2012   9:04PM GMT

Big Data initiative to support different federal agencies including healthcare

Posted by: RedaChouffani

On March 29, 2012 the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) released the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative“, which “promises to help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and transform teaching and learning”, according to the OSTP blog. This is aimed at mining collections of digital information in order to extract knowledge and glean insights in many different areas.

Approximately $200 million in commitments will go to six different federal departments to launch the initiative forward, with the funds being used to help acquire the tools, technologies and techniques needed to make sense of such large amounts of data, which stand to have a marked impact on health data analytics and improved population health.

One of the areas that will be receiving assistance is the NSF and NIH, where the document states the following:

The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health – Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering “Big Data” is a new joint solicitation supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will advance the core scientific and technological means of managing, analyzing, visualizing, and extracting useful information from large and diverse data sets. This will accelerate scientific discovery and lead to new fields of inquiry that would otherwise not be possible. NIH is particularly interested in imaging, molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, chemical, behavioral, epidemiological, clinical, and other data sets related to health and disease.

Another area that may also have an impact and affect healthcare is the XDATA project.  This is the computational technique under open source tools that will be developed over a four year period using $25 million annually in funding which will provide new tools and avenues for analyzing large volumes of unstructured and semi-structured sets of data.  This could also potentially provide free tools specific to health IT, which would be used to analyze large volumes of clinical data for research and population health analysis.

This initiative aims to provide new, improved tools to maximize the benefits of super computing powers available today. Where this big trend in big data will lead, and how will healthcare be impacted by the improved powers of data analytics? Only time will tell.

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