MIT Technology review recently reported how Express Scripts scoured data from doctor’soffices, pharmacies, and laboratories to detect patterns that might alert doctors to potential patient issues. They say they can predict twelve months in advance and with 98 percent accuracy whether a particular patient will be compliant with their medication regimen.

If doctors know who won’t be compliant, they can take proactive steps to help them be compliant, perhaps by monitoring the patient closely, sending text message reminders and encouragements, or in other ways. The point is that the crunching of huge data sets can reveal information that can be acted on to improve health and lower health costs. That is the hope anyway, and why new companies are being founded and existing companies are investing heavily in developing the capability to capture and analyze all the data being generated by personal health trackers and contained in electronic medical records.

Big medical data holds the promise to enable better and more personalized medicine. The key to success will be in coupling the analysis software with ways of presenting the data in meaningful ways so that people can understand it and take action.