School of Biomedical Informatics


SBMI Blog Articles


Our Data-Driven World


Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Typing on a keyboard

Last week, thousands of innovative thinkers descended upon Vancouver, Canada for TED2015. For five days no topic was too big, too small, or too visionary. Monica Lewinsky spoke of the state of cyber bullying in today’s digital landscape, Joseph DeSimone investigated the potential 3D printing could have on society, and even the Dalai Lama spoke up, offering insights about happiness and coexistence.

One topic that resurfaced, again and again, was data. Data is being used to find Earth-like planets, to study the impact of laughter on the psyche, to collect the stories of the world in a single app, and even to expand the human experience into previously unexplored territories.

These amazing innovations and insights are exciting. They remind us, as data scientists working within the health care industry, that almost anything is possible. With the power of data a blind person can see with his tongue, an individual can wear their health around their wrist, and doctors can make decisions more efficiently, connecting individual moments to see the bigger picture.

These days, data has become mainstream. It is no longer the property of a select few, and almost anyone with an internet connection has access to more information than they can ever hope to process. This has paved the way for the birth of crowdsourcing, social media, and digital revolutions. It is no different when looking through the lens of the health care industry.

Next month, SBMI will be attending two conferences: HIMSS15 in Chicago, IL and ANIA 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. Like TED, these conferences are a hub for innovation and creativity. Unlike TED, they are a platform for innovation within the context of the health care industry, allowing experts from all walks to share their vision of the future.

Writer William Gibson once said “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” With data, physicians and health IT experts breaking barriers, they are bringing the future into the hands of every individual.