Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is Data the Modern Rosetta Stone?

A stone found in 1799, bearing parallel descriptions in Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and demotic characters, making possible decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Rosetta Stone

Is big data the modern Rosetta Stone that will unlock the hieroglyphic connections between clinical treatments and future outcomes?

It depends upon whom you ask, and it depends on who enters the data and the validity of the data being entered, in other words, on  "facts in, facts out, " or conversely, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Computer generated data may hold the key to unraveling the parallel hieroglyphics between clinical judgments and actual outcomes – between old wife’s health tales and scientific results.  

If you read today’s June 5 New England Journal of Medicine, a staunch advocate of data-rich double-blind clinical trials and meta-studies,  you will soon learn we may be  on the cusp of deciphering the modern Rosetta clinical  stone.

·         “Learning from Big Health Care Data”

·         “Fostering Responsible Data Sharing Standards”

·         “Min-Sentinel and Regulatory Science – Big Data Rendered Fit and Functional”

If you read Kaiser Health News, you will learn doctors are already getting a lot of their supplemental outside information about what works and doesn’t work through artificial-intelligence in sites such as Modernizing Health  “When Doctors Need Advice, It Might Not Come from a Fellow Human,”  June 4, Kaiser Health News.   The point of that article is, “Computers can’t replace doctors at the bedside, but they are capable of crunching vast amount of data, identifying patterns humans can’t.”

But if you talk to harassed clinicians who must deal with the time spent away from patients to enter patient data, the personal barriers between them and their patients posed by carrying a lap data around with them, interposed between them and their patients; the hieroglyphics of figuring out what codes to use in ICD-10 coding systems,  and the expenses of installing, maintaining, and training needed for electronic  health systems,  you begin to understand why doctors are bailing out of 3rd party arrangements requiring data entry as the price of participation in insurance systems and are entering Direct Primary Care Practices free of 3rd party involvement.

And  if you go outside the realm of science into the world of health care politics,   you quickly learn  that data interpretation becomes hieroglyphic.

·         Reuters, June 5,   “U.S Says 2.2 million ObamaCare Enrollees have Data Problems.”

·         The Hill, June 4, “ O-Care Errors Threatened Plans, Subsidies.”

I close with this verse.

When you think of data as a Rosetta,

Remember data can be a piƱata.

Data may seem totally objective,

But data can be perverse and subjective,

Prone to and subject to human errata.

No comments: