March 16, 2010
Google recently released its public data explorer which combines the Google visualization tools with public datasets include population data and health data. For healthcare, the initial launch includes Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the U.S. and Cancer cases in the U.S. The charts allow selection by state and time options. For these two charts, CDC data sources are used.
So could this data explorer be used more broadly with other health data sets. For starters, those at Data.gov (although most of the health data sets are Medicare cost data). But could major disease registries open themselves up to this API so that medical researchers could visualize more data sources and generate more research questions more quickly. This could be one solution for the for the lethal lag time. The CDC has additional data sets available. But what about opening closed data sets, such as, those from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons or other disease-specific registries. Then there is the growing volume of patient reported data from sites like PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether.
The limitation of this approach is having researchers capable of interpreting these data visualizations to make meaningful interpretations. The peer review process would prevent publication of misinterpretations of the data. An additional control would be combining the data explorer with social networking tools for users to discuss visualizations and research observations of the data. Perhaps this could be accomplished through Google Wave.
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