Federal Health Agencies See Big Data as Key To Boosting Health Care

March 28, 2014 in News

About 59% of executives at health care-related federal agencies said that within five years their agencies’ mission will depend on how successfully they levy big data, according to a survey by EMC Isilon and MeriTalk, Government Health IT reports (Sullivan, Government Health IT, 3/24).

Details of Survey

For the survey, researchers polled 150 federal executives in January (MeriTalk release, 3/24).

Of the respondents:

  • 60% said big data will enhance the delivery of preventive care services;
  • 62% said big data could help improve systems within military health care and the Department of Veterans Affairs; and
  • 63% said that big data will improve population health management (Malykhina, InformationWeek, 3/26).

However, fewer than 20% of respondents said their agency is “very prepared” to effectively use big data (Government Health IT, 3/24). For instance:

  • 15% of respondents said their agency had implemented machine-to-machine technology, such as EHR systems;
  • 15% said their agency used public cloud software;
  • 24% said their agency had implemented mobile device management;
  • 25% said their agency used private cloud software (InformationWeek, 3/26);
  • 29% said their agency employed trained professionals to manage their agency’s big data;
  • 34% said their agency had invested in data-processing infrastructure (Government Health IT, 3/24);
  • 35% said their agency backed up their data or had a data recovery plan;
  • 37% said their agency used mobile health systems;
  • 43% said their agency had enhanced their agencies’ cybersecurity systems; and
  • 52% said their agency had purchased IT infrastructure to increase data storage capacity (InformationWeek, 3/26).


Audie Hittle, federal chief technology officer of EMC, said, “There’s enormous opportunity … [b]ut until we get to the point of having a sufficient level of data storage, conducting analysis and gleaning insights from that data will be tough.”

However, he noted, “Federal executives feel prepared to move forward or they’re preparing to take those critical steps to move forward,” adding that agencies are “no longer turning a blind eye to this. They’re seeing this is real and that’s a differentiator” (Government Health IT, 3/24).

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