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Social Meets Clinical Meets Research: Big Data in Medicine

I was intrigued immediately when I read that The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York hired the former data scientist for Facebook, Jeff Hammerbacher, to develop and refine their predictive analytics capabilities. It seems like a collision of the planets! Is it possible that this social media data scientist could break the code of predictive analytics in medicine and introduce us to the wonders of big data AND really improve health and wellness in the process?

It is my hope that this collaboration, particularly with Joel Dudley, director of biomedical informatics at Mount Sinai’s medical school, will produce something great. As a health_iconphysician, I look for the future of medicine to provide insights into the veiled depths of our core being. Why do some patients respond to treatments while others don’t? What factors blend together to allow some individuals to achieve wellness when others cannot? How can we predict who is at risk for becoming “chronically ill” and how can we work to proactively reverse that? Are these questions based on genomics, demographics, social interaction, environmental factors or something else?

Big Data is everywhere. From the ever evolving social media space of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more, to the wealth of Patient Generated Data, to the heat maps of disease outbreaks and millions of patient EMR findings, to the developing genomic data, someone should surely be able to decipher the code and be able to predict wellness. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, maybe not. But I do think if great minds combine with great machines, perhaps it CAN happen.

Let me know your thoughts!

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Dr Marcie Stoshak-Chavez

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