The future of health can be summed up in one word: data. Or more specifically, the combination of of health data sets that had never been connected before. In a fascinating panel titled, “Panel Health Data Everywhere: Not a Drop to Link,” panelists discussed how this new mashup of health data is creating new innovative health solutions and is helping to tackle some of the most pressing health issues.
First, it’s important to note there are there are three basic types of health data:
- Individual Health Data: This is data that we generate on our own, increasingly with digital and mobile devices. This ranges from body weight, and blood glucose readings to the time it takes you to run a mile.
- Personal Health Data: This is data about you but generated by someone else. This is the normal health information that is collected during a doctor or hospital visit.
- Institutional Health Data: This is health and economic data about populations as a whole. This includes both data at the government level (FDA, HHS, CDC,) as well at the corporate level.
Up until now, data in the above groups was largely unstructured. That is, most databases just contained specific numbers and values (e.g. heart rate, cholesterol levels, etc.) but lacked an overarching narrative. The data did not tell a story, let alone present a solution.
But now, those data sets are being combined and integrated. And the result is genius health innovations that are being used to address health issues, both at the individual and social levels.
For the first time in history, technology is allowing these three data sets to be combined to create newer, more effective health solutions, such as:
- GPS-enabled asthma inhalers – Now people with asthma can track the location where they were when they had an asthma attack and needed to use an inhaler. This can help discover potential allergies and toxins per patient.
- Tweet Nutrition – People are using Twitter to share calories and nutritional data about specific foods, which is often proving more accurate than government nutrition data.
- Healthy Homes – A new database combines information about local health organized by zip code—and homes for sale. So now a young family can consider not only the quality of schools in a neighborhood, but the health quality of the neighborhood itself.
What this means for the pharmaceutical industry:
- Data-mining is going to become a larger business strategy in the years ahead and will become new fuel for the drug discovery pipeline.
- Therefore, pharma should continue to dramatically increase the trend of open collaboration between the industry itself and smaller innovation companies, starting with sharing this data.
At the end of the panel, Patient Like Me Founder Jamie Heywood stated that contrary to public perceptions, pharma spends more time and money on research study outcomes than hospitals, physicians, and the government combined. It’s time pharma started getting credit for the data it has, and it needs to find new ways to leverage that for better outcomes for all.