Big data is more than just "massive amounts" of data, according to Dave Muntz, principal deputy national coordinator at HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
"I believe what we're looking at is a fundamental shift in the way we talk about data analytics," Muntz said during his keynote speech to the Accountable Care & Health IT Strategies Summit in Chicago.
Muntz, the former senior vice president and chief information officer at Baylor Health Care System, Dallas, recalled his days starting out in healthcare IT as programmer before the launch of Microsoft's Windows operating system.
"When Windows arrived, serial programming was no longer possible," Muntz said. "You could click anywhere on the screen and something would happen. You had to develop an entirely different way of programming."
The same applies today with big data, he said. Providers and other data users will need to design systems that avail themselves of these reservoirs of information to support clinical decisionmaking—not retrospectively but while the clinician is treating the patient.
"We need to do different kinds of processing," Muntz said. "You don't want to have to wait to gather a massive amount of information. We need to talk about a fundamental shift in the way we gather data and analyze data."