Vice President Joe Biden dropped in on the 7th annual Health Datapalooza to give health IT insiders an impassioned speech over progressing cancer prevention and treatment.
“Data and technology when combined can have an incredible impact on saving people’s lives and improving the health of people here and around the world,” Biden stated.
The vice president noted how the industry has reached an inflection point previously unseen with science and medicine. For example, technology firms are converting data into machine readable formats to make the data accessible to research and discover new patterns that can deliver results to patients. He noted cancer-related deaths are down 23% over the last 21 years.
However, Biden stated we’re only scratching the surface. With an expectation the world will see almost 20 million new cancer cases and 11.4 million more cancer-related deaths by 2025, the industry, Biden stated, has to ask: “Why are we not progressing more rapidly?”
“Everywhere I go in the world, this is the topic the world wants to talk about,” he stated.
Biden stated big data and computing power holds the capability to provide significant insights into how genomics, lifestyles, and genetic changes can contribute to cancer and its treatment. But some things need to happen first:
- Generate enough data to qualify as big data: This data have to be readable, searchable and useable.
- The data need to be standardized: Biden noted how different terms (a “fractured leg” versus a “broken leg” for example) prove difficult for computers to aggregate, search, and process data.
- Share the data.
Biden took to task scholarly journals and dominant EHR companies that keep clinical and research data behind paywalls and silos. “Researchers aren’t incentivized to share their data,” Biden stated. “Researchers need to share data in order to move discoveries more rapidly. Published research hidden behind paywalls leads to unnecessary duplication of failed efforts and wasted time and money.”
Biden stated one example for sharing could be an open, national network that allows any researcher, physician, or patient to access raw data in a privacy-protected manner.
He noted when the government spent federal funds to standardize health records, “we didn’t realize five different companies would come along and create their silos.”
Biden concluded the speech with a call to action: Join the fight against cancer and provide insight and knowledge to the cancer moonshot initiative.
“We need more hospitals, researchers, insurers, [and] biopharmaceutical companies to do their part and open up their data to advance cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care,” Biden stated. “I promise you I'll do everything in my power to get the federal government, the private sector, academics…and investors to work together to share more of this data ultimately designed to save patients.”
“We need each and every one of you to help us get there,” Biden said.