Improving Health standards needs this to be done : Data is the Key for this

If we look back at the history of evolution, it is evident that not the strongest but the adaptable species have survived the change of climate, environment, solar system changes and other natural causes that have occurred on planet Earth.

In the last few months, I had to visit a couple of multi specialty hospitals for a cousin's health issue. This health issue has been there for him for over 3 years and he could at last find the right treatment. This relief however was not without pain, disappointment, mood swings and family members pushed into gloom and spending their hard earned money and quality time. This made me think about the prospects of having data and then connecting the dots. Below are my thoughts on how we can improve the medical attention given to a patient and how we can improve the diagnosis of the patient's condition faster than ever.

Thus human beings have got the adaptability nature that made our species survive and thrive. Today, we are 6+ billion population on this planet. Looking back we can strongly say that the improvements in health and medical sciences have greatly helped improve the life and life expectancy of humans.

However, we are at a place where a new path needs to be taken to further improve human life and improvise the techniques in which patients get treated. With so many patients visiting doctors everywhere on the Earth in so many hospitals we generate a lot of data.

But, what is it that we are doing with this data? 

Countries like US and many others have rules and regulations in place that make it a crime to have patients data being made public. Data related to a patient is completely private. In few scenarios, these laws are an advantage but many a times it is not so.

What we can do with this data?

A little background:
Companies like Google get a lot of data in terms of search every second. This makes them a repository of every possible word in every language that people speak. With this huge repository, Google is able to make Google Search Prediction as you type your search phrase. Google Speech API is able to understand what you talk and which language you talk. Google Now is able to use this to answer your questions without even asking you to use your keyboard. Thus data is currency. Data is a mine. Data is everything for many companies that talk to their customers.

What we can understand from the above case?

Thus we see that Data creates a huge possibility. Data Mining, which is now a popular word and having that in your resume helps you get hefty package. Then why not use huge data that we have from patients health records? Being medical and health related, this data is highly important to the minutest detail.

As you have read at the starting of my article I have not revealed any personal information of the patient and even the relation mentioned is falsified. Thus, I feel that having the information on the state of a patient like Age, Gender, symptoms at the time of admission/ 1st report / 1st arrival of the patient at the hospital can be used as a basis for diagnosing someone else at some other place on this planet with similar complaints.

This comparison is similar to how we derive few points from knowing a person's hereditary medical issues like diabetics or kidney issues or liver issues or psoriasis.

The Obstacles and how to overcome it?

As discussed many countries treat medical records as very private and thus at this juncture, we must obey these rules. However, we have cases where patients have come out on their own and have given out the details of their health records. Also, doctors with experience treating multiple patients have huge information to share and they do it in regular meetings that happen across the globe. All we need to do it to channelize this data and have algorithms and artificial intelligence in place to work on to come up with set of results that can further be streamlined.

Are there any side effects?

As of today, I believe that the side effects are incomparable to the large benefits that we yield from having the fruits from data analysis and data mining of patient's records from across the globe.

Point of caution:

Having said so much in the last few hundreds of words, I see that the time to diagnose might come down but the price of diagnosis might go up. This is because the treating doctor might believe multiple things as the reason of cause and recommend all of them to the patient.


All of the above thinking is purely based on my thoughts based on my experience. I am not the 1st person to express this kind of thing in health sciences. Sergey Brin from Google has publicly spoken about this with respect to many health problems publicly in his interview with Vinod Khosla in 2014. That's 2 years ahead of this post.

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