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Informatics in neurocritical care

new ideas for Big Data

Flechet, Marine; Grandas, Fabian Güiza; Meyfroidt, Geert

Current Opinion in Critical Care: April 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 87–93
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0000000000000287
NEUROSCIENCE: Edited by J. Claude Hemphill

Purpose of review Big data is the new hype in business and healthcare. Data storage and processing has become cheap, fast, and easy. Business analysts and scientists are trying to design methods to mine these data for hidden knowledge. Neurocritical care is a field that typically produces large amounts of patient-related data, and these data are increasingly being digitized and stored. This review will try to look beyond the hype, and focus on possible applications in neurointensive care amenable to Big Data research that can potentially improve patient care.

Recent findings The first challenge in Big Data research will be the development of large, multicenter, and high-quality databases. These databases could be used to further investigate recent findings from mathematical models, developed in smaller datasets. Randomized clinical trials and Big Data research are complementary. Big Data research might be used to identify subgroups of patients that could benefit most from a certain intervention, or can be an alternative in areas where randomized clinical trials are not possible.

Summary The processing and the analysis of the large amount of patient-related information stored in clinical databases is beyond normal human cognitive ability. Big Data research applications have the potential to discover new medical knowledge, and improve care in the neurointensive care unit.

Laboratory of Intensive Care Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Correspondence to Geert Meyfroidt, MD, PhD, Department of Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel: +32 16 344021; fax: +32 16 344015; e-mail:

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