Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards

Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards

Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards

Data interpretation is happening every moment of the day, whether a person realizes it or not. Having a large pool of data can be extremely useful if it is integrated in a meaningful way. According to Wang et al. (2018), pooling big data can “improve the quality and accuracy of clinical decisions.” Where I work, and probably at any healthcare facility, profit is always the end game. I see data used by our chief financial officer (CFO), along with our admissions team, when they send out their weekly forecast. This shows how many patients are discharging, how many new patients we are expecting, and our current census. Having the data organized is critical as it shows the admission coordinator if they need to do more outreach to bring in new patients. It also shows them if we have beds available to accommodate the influx of new patients. It directly relates to me as it is used for staffing needs. Having this data is critical to the operation, but it wouldn’t be as useful if it hadn’t been aggregated into a succinct template to access the information at a glance (Thew, 2016).



However, pooling large amounts of data comes with risk as well. When more data is collected, the organization will more storage as well. Storage comes at a cost, and patient privacy could be jeopardized if those costs are cut (Wang et al., 2018). Our system was recently hacked at the corporate level with ransomware. Having all of our data in a central location turned out to be a poor decision. Our patient and employee data was compromised. It is critical to have proper IT security in place when dealing with large amounts of data.

An interesting idea to mitigate the threat of something like ransomware happening again is to divide data into blocks that are dispersed amongst several virtual servers (Levitin, 2019). This way, the attacker wouldn’t have access to the data by hacking into a single database or server. Along with dividing the data, an early warning detection system would also be useful to detect a breach (Levitin, 2019).

Big data aggregation comes with risks and benefits. By mitigating some of the risks by increasing security protocols, data can be collected and stored in a secure way, ensuring patient and user confidentiality.


Levitin, G., Xing, L., & Huang, H.-Z. (2019). Security of Separated Data in Cloud Systems with Competing Attack Detection and Data Theft Processes. Risk Analysis : An Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis, 39(4), 846–858. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1111/ris…

Thew, J. (2016). Big data means big potential, challenges for nurse execs. Retrieved December 27, 2020 from https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/nursing/big-dat…

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.

Jennifer Browning

RE: Discussion – Week 5


Information professionals, specifically in a hospital setting, look at big data sets for budgeting, staffing, patient admissions and discharges, etc. Data can be computed for all areas that help a hospital run efficiently. According to Tishgart (2012), more data means more knowledge and opportunities for organizations to take that data and benefit from it. (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2018) This is partially true, since the purpose of storing this data is to learn and improve, but anytime you are dealing with technology and large amounts of data, there can be pitfalls as well.

Some benefits of using big data in a clinical system are the improvement of patient outcomes, since big data helps us to see what is working well for our patients, and any areas we are falling short in. If med errors or patient incidents are occurring frequently, big data sets can help see a bigger picture of what is causing these issues, like noticing that these incidents are occurring on days the floor is short staffed. Another benefit of big data is for budgeting, because although we are there to care for patients, it is still a business that needs to make a profit. The big data sets can show where cutbacks need to occur, and what departments need more money to run efficiently.

Anytime technology is involved, errors and setbacks are a possibility. A con of big data sets is the risk of a security breech. My workplace was experienced a cyber attack back in 2016, where patient and employee information were compromised. The hackers requested a ransom in return for the computer system. During this time, we operated under the Emergency Operations Plan, where paper charting was used during this time. Since this happened, the organization upgraded security measures and made changes to email and internet access throughout the change. Inservice’s were provided to all employees to avoid phishing and ransomware, and how to recognize potential threats. Homomorphic encryption can be used to hinder third parties from accessing data, as well as storing data in several servers to make it more difficult to access sensitive information.


McGonigle, D., & Mastrian, K. G. (2017). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Thew, J. (2016, April 19). Big data means big potential, challenges for nurse execs. Retrieved from https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/nursing/big-dat…

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