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White House tackles healthcare with newest round of big data projects

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a group of big data research and development projects, many focusing on healthcare. It not only demonstrates that the nation’s top scientists are developing new research techniques by harnessing the power of informatics, but also how healthcare has become a larger priority as economic pressures make cost-cutting a necessity.

The first group of projects, announced last year, concentrated on a variety of topics including data science education, biomedical research, geology and national security. While some of those topics make appearances in this year’s round, too, healthcare big data clearly is a top priority.

Some of the highlights:

  • CancerLinQ: A public-private consortium of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, vendors, foundations and government is creating analysis tools to find new cancer treatments using deidentified data of all cancer patients instead of the identified data of the 3% of cancer patients currently enrolled in clinical trials. The $80 million project will go live with analysis tools for clinicians as early as 2015 if all goes according to present timetables.
  • update: Novartis, Pfizer and Eli Lilly and Company are partnering with the federal government to open up access to clinical trials data for the benefit of recruiting patients to trials. Other tools will make trials searchable for patients. The idea is to provide more detailed, patient-friendly information about trials, including a machine readable “target health profile” to improve the ability of healthcare software to match individual health profiles to applicable clinical trials. Furthermore, patients will be able to search for trials using their Blue Button downloadable health data. The 2014 launch will include 50 clinical trials in its database, and other sponsors of clinical trials may participate.
  • Our Health Data Cooperative: A patient-owned database, this tool espouses to give patients more control over their health data. Subscription fees paid by healthcare organizations for access to deidentified data will fund the project, along with $12 million in federal monies to promote patient enrollment. The database will be built by The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Center for the Advancement of Health Information Technology at RTI International, and goals include enrolling 10 million U.S. residents in the next 24 months.

View the full list here.

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