Data mining health records: the good, bad and ugly

Take your time this weekend and read this article from the Washington Post on the ‘brave new world’ of data mining health records. While those with experience analyzing real-world health data snicker at Larry Page of Google’s inflated claims of ‘saving 10,000 lives in the first year’ if only he could get his hands on that identified data (of course, then there’s the opportunity to make $£€¥, which is what Larry and Sergey are really interested in–count your Editor as a cynic!), the Health Data Analytics Express rolls on. The promise lies in more precision in treatment areas such as brain tumor radiology where sizing is critical (BraTumIA) and individualized genomics for disease. Yet the author does not touch on healthcare decision support systems best exemplified by IBM Watson, or consumer-driven analytics related to fitness and self-monitoring of vital signs. It seems to this Editor that other positive examples were edited out in favor of rounding up the usual suspects such as privacy invasions and hacking, plus unnecessary digressions (was a reference to the Google self-driving car really necessary?), and the lack of a critical eye on musings such as’“It would be great if when the patient walked in our Bluetooth sensors picked up their phone and it pushed in all their exercise and diet history, and then there were analytics that were performed in real time” when doctors cannot keep up with data pushed into their EHRs, much less more critical telecare and telehealth data for chronic condition patients at home. Ahem! Hat tip to reader and contributor Sarianne Gruber of Moved by Metrics

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