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Small-Big Data: A Healthcare Revolution In The…

Small-Big Data: A Healthcare Revolution In The…

Thomas Redman once said that “where there’s data smoke there’s business fire.”

The ultimate goal of innovation that can actually affect our lives and our health is to turn data into information and information into an actual action plan.

“In the future, wellbeing will not be determined by a medical chart that details diseases, but … [+] rather by the journey through life and health.”

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It’s not a new concept, but the growing realization is that collection and analysis of data will dramatically improve patient outcomes. Ideally, a wealth of available data will lead to more patient-centered, connected care. The challenge, however, lies in the quality and longevity of the data available.

The U.S. healthcare system is somewhat cumbersome; tracking and collecting data efficiently is quite difficult. The Israeli healthcare system is very different; notably, almost 100% of Israelis have medical coverage, as opposed to approximately 33 million Americans who have no medical insurance at all, and many millions more that only have basic government coverage such as Medicare or Medicaid. In the United States, patients frequently change medical insurers, as opposed to Israel, in which 99% of healthcare members remain loyal to the same HMO “from the cradle to the grave.”

The HMOs in Israel oversee every aspect of healthcare, from primary care to tests, treatments, hospital visits and drug prescriptions; this allows them to collect very comprehensive data. In the U.S., most health care providers have not digitized the limited data they have to leverage for their performance. In Israel, however, some HMOs have digitized extensive data, which has resulted in greater insights into the medical state and history of their patients.

Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi (KSM) is the research and innovation center of Maccabi, one of Israel’s leading HMO’s . It conducts longitudinal data-driven research with precise and real-world data analytics.

For almost six years, the center has had unique access to Maccabi’s wealth of medical knowledge, including a large database of 2.6 million members and 30 years of digitized data collection. “We are a strong force in multiple global health areas,” says Dr. Tal Patalon, head of KSM. “Our innovation and big data is based on advanced data sources and AI technologies; it has led us to found Israel’s largest Biobank, with over 800K samples collected; develop our epidemiological research department; and forge clinical research collaborations that result in significant life-changing achievements.”

“We consider how to make a true clinical impact on a patients’ life. Is it by implementing new … [+] research insights, introducing an innovative algorithm or a smart medical device?” Dr. Patalon

Asaf Brenner

The Israeli center is leading improvements in global health, creating and expediting medical breakthroughs by partnering with renowned international scientists, researchers, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, startups, and tech companies.

“KSM integrates decades of meticulously collected electronic health data, a biobank and an experienced clinical research department; but most importantly,” says Dr. Patalon, “it is unique in that its exceptional multi-disciplinary teams are eager to promote our understanding of health. We believe in hands-on collaborations between practicing healthcare workers, who have clinical experience and insight, and data architects, data scientists and algorithm developers. This allows for a continuous feedback loop of small and big data research, from hands-on patient care, through electronic health records, biologic markers and genetic data, while zooming in on areas of interest and potential insights,” she explains. “Combining these observations with comprehensive, deep, serial data is what I mean by a small-big data approach: healthcare workers differentiate between a potential insight versus noise, and developers and scientists identify insights from the data. A constant cycle of refinement.”

An Ever-Narrowing Feedback Loop

Big data has undoubtedly revolutionized research. However, according to Patalon, the current distinction between the traditional roles of practicing healthcare workers, who have hands-on clinical experience and insight, and those of data architects, data scientists and algorithm developers, is misguided.

“healthcare workers differentiate between a potential insight versus noise, and developers and … [+] scientists identify insights from the data. A constant cycle of refinement.”

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She believes that clinical observation is at the heart of medical research: “Think of the traditional country doctors who identified patterns in their own practice. Now, combine these observations with comprehensive, deep, serial, data – that‘s the essence of the small-big data approach.”

As layered investigations could lead to the redefinition of diseases, a true multidisciplinary team adds unparalleled added value. While our health sometimes depends on the experience and substantial knowledge of a specific, well trained doctor, big-small data will be able to generate quicker and possibly novel results.

Dr. Patalon, an exceptionally passionate physician who has introduced a non-traditional and revolutionary approach, takes pride in the center’s notable achievements. Lately, a Covid study resulted in remarkable findings: “We led a research on naturally acquired immunity, namely the protection conferred by a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection against infection; this was an important effort during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the preprint stage, the findings were published by scientific and non-scientific media around the world, and later appeared in leading journals, including Clinical Infectious Diseases and Annals of Internal Medicine. Naturally acquired immunity, initially examined in adults, was later studied in adolescents, and is currently being analyzed in children; findings are due to be published in the upcoming weeks.”

“In the future, wellbeing will not be determined by a medical chart that details diseases, but rather by the journey through life and health. Each individual journey is unique, specific to that person, but at the same time, it is a derivative of the endless number of possible journeys of all individuals.”

Each personal documented medical journey consists of endless data elements, which constantly change, but, as Dr. Patalon points out, our knowledge of that person’s journey changes as well, as do the conclusions.

“We are continuously expanding the scope of our work; however, we still need to prioritize. We consider how to make a true clinical impact on a patients’ life. Is it by implementing new research insights, introducing an innovative algorithm or a smart medical device?”

KSM invites researchers from all over the globe to collaborate with the Center and use its wealth of data for their benefit, in accordance with the WMA Declaration of Helsinki ethics committee.

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