Making sense of big data in health research: Towards an EU action plan.
- Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg
Medicine and healthcare are undergoing profound changes. Whole-genome sequencing and high-resolution imaging technologies are key drivers of this rapid and crucial transformation. Technological innovation combined with automation and miniaturization has triggered an explosion in data production that will soon reach exabyte proportions. How are we going to deal with this exponential increase in data production? The potential of "big data" for improving health is enormous but, at the same time, we face a wide range of challenges to overcome urgently. Europe is very proud of its cultural diversity; however, exploitation of the data made available through advances in genomic medicine, imaging, and a wide range of mobile health applications or connected devices is hampered by numerous historical, technical, legal, and political barriers. European health systems and databases are diverse and fragmented. There is a lack of harmonization of data formats, processing, analysis, and data transfer, which leads to incompatibilities and lost opportunities. Legal frameworks for data sharing are evolving. Clinicians, researchers, and citizens need improved methods, tools, and training to generate, analyze, and query data effectively. Addressing these barriers will contribute to creating the European Single Market for health, which will improve health and healthcare for all Europeans.