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Open Access Software

A user-friendly tool to transform large scale administrative data into wide table format using a mapreduce program with a pig latin based script

Hiromasa Horiguchi1*, Hideo Yasunaga1, Hideki Hashimoto2 and Kazuhiko Ohe3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Management and Policy, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 1138555, Japan

2 Department of Health Economics and Epidemiology Research, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

3 Department of Medical Informatics and Economics, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:151  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-151

Published: 22 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Secondary use of large scale administrative data is increasingly popular in health services and clinical research, where a user-friendly tool for data management is in great demand. MapReduce technology such as Hadoop is a promising tool for this purpose, though its use has been limited by the lack of user-friendly functions for transforming large scale data into wide table format, where each subject is represented by one row, for use in health services and clinical research. Since the original specification of Pig provides very few functions for column field management, we have developed a novel system called GroupFilterFormat to handle the definition of field and data content based on a Pig Latin script. We have also developed, as an open-source project, several user-defined functions to transform the table format using GroupFilterFormat and to deal with processing that considers date conditions.

Results

Having prepared dummy discharge summary data for 2.3 million inpatients and medical activity log data for 950 million events, we used the Elastic Compute Cloud environment provided by Amazon Inc. to execute processing speed and scaling benchmarks. In the speed benchmark test, the response time was significantly reduced and a linear relationship was observed between the quantity of data and processing time in both a small and a very large dataset. The scaling benchmark test showed clear scalability. In our system, doubling the number of nodes resulted in a 47% decrease in processing time.

Conclusions

Our newly developed system is widely accessible as an open resource. This system is very simple and easy to use for researchers who are accustomed to using declarative command syntax for commercial statistical software and Structured Query Language. Although our system needs further sophistication to allow more flexibility in scripts and to improve efficiency in data processing, it shows promise in facilitating the application of MapReduce technology to efficient data processing with large scale administrative data in health services and clinical research.

Keywords:
MapReduce; Pig Latin; Large scale administrative data; User-defined functions