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What is Big Data discussion question

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As nurses, we collect data each time we chart vital signs, check a blood sugar, or weigh a patient. Looking at all of this data together becomes information that determines a diagnosis and provides more knowledge (Laureate Education, 2018). For example, if a blood sugar is checked on a patient and then the nurse compares it to the patient’s vital signs, urine output, and neurological status, the information collected from those different types of data can give more insight or knowledge into what is causing the patient to be sick. There are a variety of types of data but this discussion post today will focus on big data and how it impacts nursing. Big data refers to software that is able to handle explosions of information efficiently (Wang et al, 2018). Since big data deals with so much information at once, there can be both benefits and challenges to its use.

Benefit of Big Data

One benefit of big data is that it will help the way we prevent, treat and manage disease as well as transform care to become more value-based (Thew, 2016). With big data, nurse informaticists and executives will have access to real-time data so that they are able to continuously evaluate how well education, care, and treatments are working instead of having to wait for monthly or yearly reports (Thew, 2016). Quicker insight to data like this can change patient care in a way we have never seen before, which is the beauty of technology. However, with any technological changes there are challenges, and big data is no different.

Challenge of Big Data and How to Overcome It

A challenge to big data is that every technology platform uses different units to define the same thing (Thew, 2016). For example, the definition of day can vary depending on the healthcare system, electronic charting system, or data collection technology. There is a lack of data standardization within healthcare, which limits the usefulness of data and how beneficial it can be (Thew, 2016). A strategy to overcome this challenge is to implement a data governance committee within healthcare systems that manage big data and how it is utilized (Wang et al. 2018). When sharing data, it is important to ensure that patient information is protected throughout data transferring. But as discussed, units for data vary from system to system so a responsibility of data governance can be to translate information to be heterogeneous in nature so that it can be useful for all (Wang et al, 2018). Just like the role of the nurse informaticist, big data analytics is going to continue to advance in healthcare to change and better patient care for nursing.


Laureate Education. (2018). Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom [Video file].

Mitchell, M., & Kan, L. (2019). Digital technology and the future of health systems. Health Systems & Reform, 5(2), 113-120.\

Thew, J. (2016, April 19). Big data means big potential, challenges for nurse execs. Healthleaders.

Wang, Y., Kung, L., & Byrd, T.A. (2018). Big data analytics: Understanding its capabilities and potential benefits for healthcare organizations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 126(1), 3-13.

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