Monday, February 08, 2016

SCIENCE - Big Data and Modern Medicine

I have always said "the more tools in your toolbox it is more likely you can fix something."  I am not just talking about physical tools (wrenches, screw drivers, staples) but intellectual tools.  Like more information you have, the better choices you may make.

"Big data meets modern medicine in a life-saving equation" PBS NewsHour 2/3/2016


SUMMARY:  There are so many ways to spend money on health care, but which offer the most bang for the buck?  Dr. Chris Murray is trying to answer that question with an equation that measures the impact of different interventions.  Countries that rely on big data have made big strides in health care, but some say the system ignores the human side of medicine.  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, using big data to assess medical treatments and interventions and whether decisions for individual patients are the right choice for all of society.

That’s not necessarily seen as the right way of making decisions in science and medicine when lives are at stake.  But some believe it’s a critical consideration.

Our science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at how some thinkers in the field are challenging long-held assumptions.

The story was produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

MILES O’BRIEN (NewsHour):  This is where the line between life and death is drawn, an operating room at a hospital in a remote part of Nepal.

Dr. Shree Ram Tiwari is performing one of the first C-sections in this part of the world, hoping to save the lives of Muna Buhl and her unborn child.  It’s not going smoothly.

DR. SHREE RAM TIWARI, Physician (through interpreter):  The power cut out at such an important time, because the baby should keep crying after it’s born, but it wasn’t.  We needed power for the suction machine.

MILES O’BRIEN:  Bringing C-sections to this remote corner comes not only with risks, but also a hefty price tag.  The bills are paid by Possible, the American charity that runs the hospital.

DR. SHREE RAM TIWARI (through interpreter):  Nepal’s constitution talks about health rights, that every person should have access to health care.  But that is not implemented.

MILES O’BRIEN:  While mother and child remain the focus for Dr. Tiwari as he copes with the power failure, the global health community tries to shed light on whether this surgery should have happened at all.

Medical ethicist Peter Singer is a professor at Princeton University.  He is a leading proponent of a philosophy called effective altruism.

PETER SINGER, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University:  Effective altruists look for those health care programs worldwide that offer the low-hanging fruit.  Where can you save lives most cheaply?

No comments: