HIMSS17: Dark Data Blog

Imagine being a cab driver in a strange city and only having access to half of the maps on your GPS.

Picture yourself trying to put together Swedish furniture with only half of the instructions provided.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a physician, trying to diagnose a patient with only 40 percent of the necessary information available from the EMR. This is the reality doctors across the country face every day – but it need not be the case.

About 60 percent of the data needed to make truly informed decisions is unstructured, according to Louis Lannum, director of enterprise imaging at Cleveland Clinic and a member of the HIMSS-SIIM Enterprise Imaging Joint Workgroup. Included in that percentage are medical images that “are typically stored in departmental systems and in most institutions there is an absolute inability to share,” he said. Also known as “dark data,” this critical information is thus inaccessible to the clinician just when it is needed the most.