Big data has caused some confusion since its introduction -- and some say that like service-oriented architecture and cloud computing before it, big data might lose its meaning. Essentially, big data "implies the need for a strategy for dealing with large quantities of data."

And when it comes to health care, "Big data converted to actionable data has the potential to create better diagnostic tools, more personalized treatment plans and a better understanding of population health," MedCityNews reported.

But turning big data into actionable data requires more manpower and computer power -- a concept that can be a little tough to grasp. There’s an estimated 50 petabytes of data in the healthcare realm alone, according to the following infographic by Healthcare IT Connect, which gives a better idea of how data flows through health-related entities and organizations -- and how big data, when used to its potential, could help improve outcomes and reduce costs.