Webinar Summary: Sources of Real-World Data (RWD) - An Introduction to “Big Data”

By Sara Gray, Associate, Programs  

On Nov. 6, 2020, the National Health Council (NHC) along with our partners at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy hosted a webinar in our series on real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE). This webinar introduced a source of RWD, that of “Big Data,” and was moderated by Elisabeth Oehrlein, PhD, MS, Assistant Vice President of Research and Programs at the NHC. It featured:  

  • Susan dosReisBSPharm, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Research, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy, and 
  • Sally Okun, BSN, RN, MMHS, Independent Consultant, formerly Vice President of Policy & Ethics of PatientsLikeMe. 

Sally Okun provided an overview of what Big Data is and includes by outlining what is often called the “V’s of Big Data. These “Big Data characteristics have evolved over time and include: 

  • Volume: large quantity of data 
  • Velocity: data are generated quickly 
  • Variety: data come from many sources 
  • Veracity: data are accurate 
  • Value: data have quantifiable worth 
  • Variability: there is diversity within the data sources 
  • Visualization: data are visible 
  • Virality: data are continually shared 

Data can be generated from a wide range of sources, such as finance, government, education, etc. Ms. Okun reviewed challenges such as broken data flow that can impact use of “Big Data for decision-making 

Dr. dosReis presented on a specific type of “Big Data, that of administrative claims databases, and described how they are used in research. Use of administrative data for research purposes increased with the transition to electronic billing and electronic health records. These data come from health care use, such as emergency room visits, hospital care, and doctor’s office visitsAdministrative claims databases can be used to study treatment patterns, diagnoses, patient demographics, clinical information (e.g., lab work and tests)and some outcomes 

Despite limitations, such as and representativeness“Big Data presents many opportunities for research.  

Watch the full webinar below:

OTHER webinars in this Series: