From giving blood to donating data

The increasing importance of big data and analytics is changing the face of health care.

The interaction between health and information, for one, has undergone drastic transformation due to technological advances, particularly in the field of data analytics, according to technology writer Kristina Farrah.

Medical research was once a largely manual process, she observes in a recent article in the online tech publication With the preponderance of digital sensors that collect medical data on almost anything and the increasing use of electronic medical records, the ability to correlate and cross analyze more and more data points coming from various sources has become increasingly faster.

The phenomena she say, provides individuals with a new way of helping science rather than just donating blood.

Take the United States’ Health Information technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). The act states that a people are entitled to their own EMR data.

This means they can do what they want with it, according to Farrah. One alternative is to donate the data to organizations conducting medical research.


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She said technology publishing firm, O’Reilly Media Inc. is working to create a “cultural norm” for donating health data.

In Canada, various hospitals and healthcare agencies across the country are engaged in data analytics.

For example, Cancer Care Ontario has set up a data analytics centre for excellence. Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital uses analytics in patient surveys to improve trust with clinicians.

The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children gathers more than 90 million points of real-time data everyday, which it uses for analysis in its neonatal intensive care unit.

One upshot of donating health data is that individuals will have a clearer notion of how different things and activities affect their own lives and provide them with knowledge that they can apply to their personal health.

Read the whole story here



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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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