Big data is the data that is available in healthcare as a result of electronic devices, the internet and EHRs, which have provided data that is beyond expectation. However, much of the data is unusable due to tailored EHRs which have been uniquely crafted to meet the needs of individual organizations. Once the data is standardized, the benefits will be reciprocal. That is, nurses will create quality, measurable information, and nursing will benefit from the research and analysis of the information.
Despite higher expenditures on healthcare than any other nation, there is little measurable indication that the United States produces better health outcomes. As most research is evidence-based, any measurable outcomes could advance and confirm best practices. New EHR data is not able to be used for data analysis because of the uniqueness of the data determined by individual clinics’ needs. Therefore, a vast amount of money has been spent on information-gathering EHRs, and it is not usable. Standardization will be a requirement for future success.

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Big data, when available and gathered, will help to compare and update best practices. It will aid in research and development, and the research will aid in prevention and early diagnosis. This will aid not only nursing but the entire healthcare system, and it will help to create new medical models, reimbursement practices, and outcome research (Keenan, 2014).

As Brennan & Bakken state, “Nursing needs big data, and big data needs nursing” (2015). The motivation to gather big data that is interoperable is moving forward. It will enhance evidence-based medicine and allow large amounts of information to be immediately accessible by the nursing community. The biggest barrier to big data is the interoperability of the information, and nurses will have to abide by standardized practices to achieve successful creation of the data. In return, the data will be more varied, numerous, and applicable for research than any data has been to date.

  • Brennan, Patricia Flatley, RN, PhD,F.A.A.N., F.A.C.M.I., & Bakken, Suzanne, RN, PhD,F.A.A.N., F.A.C.M.I. (2015). Nursing needs big data and big data needs nursing. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(5), 477-484. doi:
  • Keenan, G. (2014). Big Data in Health Care: An Urgent Mandate to CHANGE Nursing EHRs! Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 18(1), Available at