David Feinberg, Google's Vice President of Healthcare, recently described "a search bar on top of ... [ ] your [electronic health records] that needs no training," on stage at a conference in Las Vegas. Google is testing a service that would use its search and artificial intelligence technology to analyze patient records for Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S., according to documents about the efforts reviewed by Forbes. Called "'Nightingale," the Google-Ascension project indicates that Google's push into health analysis is farther along than previously believed, even as the company has faced a growing backlash over health-related privacy concerns. Ascension said in a statement that all its work with Google complies with privacy law and is "underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort, which Google echoed in its own blog post later Monday, including that "patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data. " The Wall Street Journal first published details of the Ascension partnership earlier on Monday.
Merck plans to use a cloud-based software platform to better predict and prevent drug shortages, according to The Wall Street Journal. The platform, developed by healthcare software company TraceLink, will analyze in real time data from pharmacies, hospitals and wholesale distributors. By using analytics and machine learning, the software can improve predictions and help drugmakers better match drug demand. The software could also save drugmakers hundreds of millions of dollars annually by reducing waste and avoiding costs like expedited shipments, because it can track a drug's status at every step in the supply chain. The platform currently holds data on more than 6 billion drugs.
If IBM is looking for a new application for its Watson machine learning tools, it might consider putting health care providers' procurement and systems integration woes ahead of curing cancer. The fall-out from that project has now prompted the resignation of the cancer center's president, Ronald DePinho, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The university recently published an internal audit report into the procurement processes that led it to hand almost $40 million to IBM and over $21 million to PwC for work on the project, almost all of it without board approval. It noted that the scope of its review was limited to contracting and procurement practices and compliance issues, and did not cover project management and system development activities. The audit "should not be interpreted as an opinion on the scientific basis or functional capabilities of the system in its current state," because a separate review of those aspects of the project is being conducted by an external consultant, it said.
Data scientists must always remember that data sets are not objective - they are selected, collected, filtered, structured and analyzed by human design. Naked and hidden biases in selecting, collecting, structuring and analyzing data present serious risks. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled "Tweets Provide New Way to Gauge TV Audiences" provides evidence of a disconnect between mainstream viewers and folks who use Twitter. The chart above shows the disconnect between the most popular and most tweeted shows - the most tweeted show is not a top ten show. While Twitter data can be useful for detecting trends and sentiments for certain areas (e.g., disease surveillance, natural disaster surveillance, product sentiments, financial trading, politics) in limited circumstances using scientific methods, it can also mislead and present a false view of reality.
Measles, once thought to have been eliminated in the U.S., is popping up in isolated outbreaks as a result of skipped well-child visits and parents' fears that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to autism. Though some 350 measles cases occurred in 15 states in the first three months of 2019, more than half were in Brooklyn, N.Y., and nearby Rockland County, N.Y., where large religious communities have adopted anti-vaccine positions. Rockland County responded by pulling 6,000 unvaccinated children out of schools and barring them from public places. The county's actions were effective; in just a few months, 17,500 doses of MMR were administered to area children. Yet, wouldn't it have been better to contain the outbreak before it got started?