Before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) became the law of the land, proponents marketed it to skeptics as an amalgamation of Republican and Democratic proposals in one package. The most widely used example was Massachusetts’ state-wide health care initiative implemented under a Republican governor. One fact that gets overlooked, however, is that it was actually George W. Bush’s administration that first promoted a national mandate for an electronic health record system. “In 2004, President Bush set as a goal that every American would have an electronic health record by 2014.” 1In 2014, it’s now standard practice for a physician to greet his patients with a handshake and a computer tablet. By encouraging physicians to create EHRs for each of their patients, Bush’s administration set in motion a practice that would, 10 years later, prove invaluable in providing some of the big data necessary toward understanding and treating complex diseases, developing more effective, individualized patient treatments, and reducing costs.

EHRs are an important part of a much larger puzzle. It’s now widely accepted that big data can significantly transform health care delivery and improve outcomes for patients everywhere. The “Policy Forum on the Use of Big Data in Health Care” states: “Big data has the power to transform lives. In health care it can reveal the factors that influence health, help target appropriate care for individuals or populations, enable new discoveries, shape outcomes, and reduce costs.”2

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