Are our privacy concerns over our data standing in the way of medical advances?

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As we prepare to dive into Big Data next week in class, this article in the New York Times challenges both doctors and patients to stop resisting the transition to digitizing medical records. Writing in Use Your Data To Cure Disease David B. Agus says:

We need to get over it. These digital databases offer an incredible opportunity to examine trends that will fundamentally change how doctors treat patients. They will help develop cures, discover new uses for drugs and better track the spread of scary new illnesses like the Zika virus.

In an articulate opinion piece, Argus looks at the potential that big data has in making continued progress in medicine, yet puts the honus of that progress on both the medical professionals and patients for being more open to the installing electronic health care records. Argus presents several case studies on how using digital health records led to big findings on how beta blocker drugs could prolong the survival of ovarian cancer patients, and the discovery of a connection between prescriptions of a certain kind of heartburn drug and heart attacks.

In addition to the New York Times article, I recommend you read this interview in McKinsey & Company on the role of big data in medicine. Dr. Eric Schadt, the founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, tells McKinsey’s Sastry Chilukuri how data-driven approaches to research can help patients, in what ways technology has the potential to transform medicine and the healthcare system. Read the article here.

There are complex issues around the use of data and concerns over our privacy rights. How far are you will to go in giving up some of your privacy rights to improve certain aspects of the human condition?

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