Monday, October 8, 2018

Data Overload

Below is my monthly message for the October 2018 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Get ready, because there is a data explosion happening in healthcare!

It was not too long ago that I would leave my weekly medical journals on my desk until I had the chance to read them. As the pile got higher and higher, I would have that constant reminder that I needed to catch up on the latest medical literature. I’ve since lost that battle, as has virtually all physicians. In fact, it is estimated that it would currently take a doctor 150 hours per week to read every piece of content published in their field of expertise.

On top of the growing amount of medical literature, much of healthcare data that was traditionally ‘unstructured’ (such as paper notes or x-ray ‘films’) is now captured digitally. And that is only the tip of the iceberg since more and more of our health data is being collected outside hospitals and clinics. How many have gotten your genetic analysis through or 23ndMe? Want a more passive and less invasive manner to collect health data? Well, our smartwatches are constantly recording heart rate, steps, and sleep patterns. In the next few years, we will likely see smart-clothes that capture respiratory rate, sweat analysis (to look at hydration status), overall activity (sleep, standing, steps, and falls), and an environmental scan (for pollutants or radiation). Smart-mirrors in your bathroom will look each morning for subtle changes such as facial dissymmetry (stroke) or early skin cancer and, combined with voice recognition, will likely be able to determine your mood and emotional well being.

All of these things create ‘data’ leading to the prediction that the amount of health data in the United States wills DOUBLE every 73 days!

So how to turn all of this ‘data’ into knowledge? Just like those journals piling up on my desk, data does us no good unless it can be converted to useful information. It is for this reason that the MHRI Board of Directors’ retreat last week was dedicated to research opportunities in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Managing all our data, across many systems (and many new sources that have not even been identified yet) is also the reason MedStar Health is investing in an enterprise data warehouse. Furthermore, our academic partners at Georgetown recently launched an Office of Health Data Science. Together, we are investing in our future and getting prepared for the data explosion in healthcare!

Let me close to remind you about another investment in our future – the Power to Heal associate giving campaign has started and every dollar designated to ‘Research at MedStar’ will go to fund the New Investigator Grants. Since we started 3 years ago, more than 15 junior investigators received these grants to collect pilot data so they can apply for external funding. This issue of FOCUS highlights many of our successes, including those that used that pilot data to get NIH, AHRQ, or foundation grants to continue their work. This money is making a difference and helping to build our next generation of investigators. It takes only a minute at

Giving: The Power to Heal | Ron Migues, MD, and Kimberley Kemp, MSA

Thank you!

Read Focus at

No comments:

Post a Comment