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Intel, Michael J. Fox and Big Data: Fighting Parkinson's Disease

Intel, Michael J. Fox and Big Data: Fighting Parkinson's Disease

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You’ve been there. In the doctor’s office that is. You’re not feeling well and you want to tell the doc all about it, but he wants to ask you questions like: How would you rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10? When did this start? How long does it last? How would you rate your sleep 1 to 10?

You answer the questions with what is, at best, a guess. And the doctor makes assessments based upon your answers. But is what he calls an “8” the same thing you call an 8? And what does “sleeping well” actually mean? (And, yes, we know there’s information like heart rate, blood pressure, lab work data to consider, but we’re putting that aside for the moment.)

Now forget about yourself and think of a Parkinson’s patient. Michael J. Fox or Intel’s Andy Grove may be the ones we “know” best, unless there’s someone in our personal lives who has been affected. Their doctors probably include some physical tests in their visits, like asking them to touch their fingertips to their noses or to walk a straight line by placing one foot in front of the other.

Patient performance on activities like these varies. We all have good days and bad. And treatments and research, especially for those who deal with hard-to-manage diseases are, on a large part, based on what a doctor observes during an office visit, what data a patient provides at a specific point in time and what existing medical research suggests.

This isn’t bad medicine. It’s everyone doing their best given the available tools.

Up until now, that is.

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