MD Anderson Cancer Center is sitting on 23 petabytes of data, including more than 2 billion diagnostic radiology images, generated by its massive IT infrastructure. But Chris Belmont, vice president and CIO, isn’t intimidated by the amount of data—he’s just scared of staring at it too long.

“Our biggest fear when we decided to move into Big Data was that, like many healthcare organizations, we’d have a two-year data ‘ingestion’ process where we’d keep thinking about that massive set of data, and connect all our systems big and small together, go get even more data from external sources, and then eventually offer our users an add-on tool and tell them to go at it,” Belmont says. “By the time we’d be done ingesting all that data, the time to change the game in terms of costs or population health would have already passed.”

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