Big Doctor Data

January 31, 2012

I recently gave Grand Rounds to the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.  Here’s what was going through my head as I looked out over the podium: ‘Just imagine what’s out there.’  Not the people, necessarily, but what they know.

Imagine if we could harness that knowledge and wisdom.  And what would it be like if we could package, tag, and archive all of that understanding on the web.  Clinical wisdom, procedural pearls, solutions, opinions, unusual patterns, unique cases, hard-learned lessons, and even simple stories.  It could take the form of video, audio, images, or boluses of curated content.  We could then make it retrievable by patients and students of the next generation.  That would be remarkable.

It could be like big data.  Big doctor data.

What we know and understand should be seen as a gift.  As doctors we don’t know that we have the ability to capture our wisdom.  We don’t understand how we can do it.  We can’t even see the power of it.  But I wonder if we understood would we then feel obligated to participate?

I suspect we might.


Douglas Bates February 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

For me, the answer depends upon how it is set up.
I am not interested in participating in a system that uses my ‘gift’ of knowledge to make a profit for a startup or for WebMD. But, if the system is analogous to Wikipedia, then it is more likely I will participate. Therein lies the rub- how do you incentivize someone to build a platform that will make good and not care about profit?

Aaron Neinstein February 17, 2012 at 1:45 am

I can’t wait for the start-up that figures out how to do a good job of crowd-sourcing medical knowledge. On-call, at 4am, on cup of coffee number 3 and at the bottom of a bag of chips and with the letters “ASDF” imprinted on my forehead from an unplanned nap, I always used to find myself wondering how many other residents across the country at that given moment were also trying to figure out the necessary clinical pearls for hyponatremia? Why couldn’t we all have one giant shared Evernote folder or Quora database for clinical questions?

Hopefully somebody figures this out.

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