NURS 6051 Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards

Big data is a benefit to the healthcare industry, but also comes with risks. There are many potential benefits if accessed and utilized correctly. Much information goes into the organization, planning, and functioning of a typical day in the healthcare facility. Having to schedule adequate staff, acuity of patients, unplanned emergencies, infections, surgeries, admissions, discharges, transfers, financial means, and strategic planning are just a few important factors in a days’ time. All the before mentioned aspects tie into big data in some way.

The big data most evident to me is the EHR (electronic health record). This is vital to the patient’s health and the sharing of information with other facilities/physicians. EHR’s contain personal information containing a lot of data. Personal demographics, medical history, lab, and diagnostic studies, and previous hospitalizations and nurses’ notes. This information is very private and is shared only with the patient and his/her providers. This secure information is accessed to further provide quality care to the patient as well as schedule additional testing if necessary. EHR’s will alert staff to these necessary tests/procedures utilizing data that assists in the process. The information gathered and entered by healthcare professionals allows the system to analyze the information and send out alerts of crucial data to the healthcare professionals. Big data also benefit patients throughout the US by having the ability to access these medical records wherever they may be traveling. In an emergency, being able to access personal medical information may save one’s life.

There are several risks that could potentially be dangerous, but the biggest one is breaching confidentiality. Personal information such as SS numbers and driver's licenses are not as secure as they were 20 years ago. A private log-in must be available to the patient as well as the staff that enters the information into the data system. Breaches occur nationwide and could potentially cause harm to a patient if his/her chart were breached. Hackers could change medications, lab results, or personal data resulting in a change in medication or treatment plan, possibly resulting in death.

One of the challenges that I read while researching, was being able to collaborate all the information and/or data that is spread across many facilities. Corporations are not willing to spend additional money on staffing and this major task would cost a lot. Although big data would save money eventually, starting the process would cause healthcare facilities time and money. Data systems would have to be agreed upon, platforms would need to be built, data would need entered and then validated to ensure accuracy. This process is critical to the patient’s health and well-being and must be completed meticulously.



Catalyst, N. E. J. M. (n.d.). Healthcare Big Data and the Promise of Value-Based Care. NEJM Catalyst.

Pastorino, R., De Vito, C., Migliara, G., Glocker, K., Binenbaum, I., Ricciardi, W., & Boccia, S. (2019, October 1). Benefits and challenges of Big Data in healthcare: an overview of the European initiatives. European journal of public health.


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


Vinay Shanthagiri. (2014). Big Data in Health Informatics [Video file]. Retrieved from

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. 


Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards

When you wake in the morning, you may reach for your cell phone to reply to a few text or email messages that you missed overnight. On your drive to work, you may stop to refuel your car. Upon your arrival, you might swipe a key card at the door to gain entrance to the facility. And before finally reaching your workstation, you may stop by the cafeteria to purchase a coffee.

From the moment you wake, you are in fact a data-generation machine. Each use of your phone, every transaction you make using a debit or credit card, even your entrance to your place of work, creates data. It begs the question: How much data do you generate each day? Many studies have been conducted on this, and the numbers are staggering: Estimates suggest that nearly 1 million bytes of data are generated every second for every person on earth.

As the volume of data increases, information professionals have looked for ways to use big data—large, complex sets of data that require specialized approaches to use effectively. Big data has the potential for significant rewards—and significant risks—to healthcare. In this Discussion, you will consider these risks and rewards.

To Prepare:

  • Review the Resources and reflect on the web article Big Data Means Big Potential, Challenges for Nurse Execs.
  • Reflect on your own experience with complex health information access and management and consider potential challenges and risks you may have experienced or observed.

By Day 3 of Week 5

Post a description of at least one potential benefit of using big data as part of a clinical system and explain why. Then, describe at least one potential challenge or risk of using big data as part of a clinical system and explain why. Propose at least one strategy you have experienced, observed, or researched that may effectively mitigate the challenges or risks of using big data you described. Be specific and provide examples.

By Day 6 of Week 5

Respond to at least two of your colleagues* on two different days, by offering one or more additional mitigation strategies or further insight into your colleagues’ assessment of big data opportunities and risks.