Siloed Data??

I have spent about half my life now in rural America, so I am familiar with silos. But it surprised me when I saw the following words in a recent New York Times post.

That’s because A.I. can instantly sort through millions of variables and provide recommendations to doctors, insurers, pharmacies and just about anyone else involved in a patient’s care. And that could be the game-changer the health care industry needs to improve care while lowering costs.

One of the biggest challenges to making effective use of A.I. in health care is that data “remains uncollected, siloed or otherwise inaccessible,” according to McKinsey & Company

The “AI” in the quote above is artificial intelligence.

I have been a database guy since the early 1990s. My Aspie traits along with my deafness seemed to make database work a natural part of my work-life, and I think I was pretty good at it. I was the first one to come up with a tool that allowed our engineering division to share data with our Mexican factories. It was quite a success back then, even if it was at a speed about a thousand times slower than it is now.

Even back in those days I dreamed of the time when the rest of the world would come to appreciate the advantages of nationwide, and even worldwide, databases of information sharing that seemed obvious to me. Now, twenty years since I left corporate life I can see that beginning to finally happen. But, it seems to be going at a snails pace. 😌

If I believe the TV shows, and that is pretty dangerous assumption, most of the law enforcement databases are now shared. Fingerprints and even DNA from other municipalities can be readily found. I don’t think this sharing is by any means complete but it is assuredly further along than medical data.

I can remember just 20 years ago when we moved to our current small town that the doctors and dentists office spaces were filled with rack after race of manila folders containing paper copies of all patient’s tests and procedures. Somewhere along the line those folders disappeared and were put on a local computer database. That was a big step forward but only a step.

The popular media company WebMD was initially formed in 2000 with the idea of consolidating medical data in a central location. That seemed to have been abandoned fairly quickly and WebMD turned into a medical information magazine for laymen and some in the medical field. I guess it’s time just hadn’t come yet, or maybe an Elon Musk to champion it.

With the constant consolidation of medical practices and hospitals going on now, medical databases are growing to regional ones. One doctor can see all the tests you have had so unnecessarily repeating them is finally gone. But, if you have to go to a doctor or hospital outside that healthcare unit everything disappears.

In conclusion, while databases have expanded they are still a long ways from being universally accessible. Until that happens mistakes will be made and tests will continue to be repeated. The medical database silos are getting bigger, but they are still just isolated silos instead of clouds. 😁

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