IT leaders in the healthcare industry have confessed to confusion over how to approach big data analytics and what the technology could do for them, a new survey has shown.

Research conducted by Stoltenberg Consulting for its annual Health IT Industry Outlook revealed that more than half of professionals in the sector (51 per cent) admitted to being uncertain about what data they should be collecting, and how much of this they need.

As the amount of information available to companies is only set to grow in the coming years – partly due to the Internet of Things and consumer-based products such as fitness bands, which can provide many more metrics for organisations to analyse – companies that understand how to translate this into usable insight stand to deliver much higher-quality results than those that do not.

However, although the survey found more than four out of ten respondents agreed big data analytics and business intelligence would be the biggest topics of 2015, 34 per cent said their initiatives are being held back by a lack of buy-in within their organisation.

Meanwhile, one in three respondents admitted they did not know what to do with the data they have collected, while ten per cent of IT leaders said they will not be able to get the answers they require, as the tools and strategies needed to be successful have not yet been developed.

Shane Pilcher, vice-president of Stoltenberg Consulting, noted that many organisations feel they need to "jump of the big data bandwagon", but often, they approach the technology from a reactive rather than proactive point of view.

"Healthcare IT leaders should instead focus on collecting smart healthcare data, monitoring what data they're saving and concentrating on the quality, quantify and validity of data needed to answer future questions for organisations," he continued.

Mr Pilcher stated that ultimately, a big data analytics programme will only be as good as the information being input into these systems. Therefore, it will be essential for users across the entire data collection pathway to adopt and be engaged with the solutions.