Read what John Lynn, founder of the Hospital EMR and EHR blog says about Dana Seller’s Smart Skinny Data vs. Big Data article:

Skinny Data Solves Specific Problems While BIG DATA Looks for Unseen Problems

From John Lynn - I recently saw a piece that Dana Sellers from Encore Health Resources had written about BIG DATA in healthcare and the Encore Health Resources approach to healthcare skinny data. Many of you may remember my previous post on skinny data in healthcare. I also did a Google Plus hangout with Dana Sellers where we talked about healthcare data and other EHR related topics (She provides some tremendous insights in that video if you missed it).

Obviously, I have a tremendous interest in these topics. The future of healthcare is going to sit on the back of healthcare data. How it’s used and leveraged is going to make an important difference in every aspect of healthcare.

In the aforementioned piece from Dana (which I don’t think they’re planning to publish publicly), she makes an important observation about the difference between skinny data and BIG data. In my summary of her words, she suggests that skinny data is great at solving specific problems. When we understand the problem well, and we just need to coordinate the proper data, then skinny data works really well and produces great results. However, skinny data usually falls short when you want to try and find unseen problems.

BIG DATA is where healthcare needs to turn to be able to find unseen problems in an organization. The reason this is so beautiful is that the data can often reveal issues that couldn’t be seen in any other way. This is particularly true when you mix data from multiple departments.

I think the real impediment to BIG DATA in healthcare is that we already know about so many healthcare issues. We don’t need BIG DATA to tell us about more problems. We already have enough on our plate as is. I think this is one more reason why we’re seeing more and more skinny healthcare data approaches in the market. I expect this trend will continue.

My only question is will skinny healthcare data be enough for ACOs, or will hospitals need to have a full enterprise data warehouse to address the demands of ACOs.