Leveraging big data to improve population health requires the analysis of a tsunami of lifestyle, genomic, medical, and financial data, but current privacy safeguards may not be enough to keep in check rapidly advancing analytics that can also be used for harmful or discriminatory healthcare practices. As analytics and big health data gain momentum, the federal government is weighing the need to carve out special data use authorities for the industry.

While big data holds tremendous potential for advancing medical science, reducing the costs of healthcare delivery, and providing better health outcomes, the analysis of this data also poses significant risks to individual privacy—a reality the Obama administration is grappling with.

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