We are now on the verge of a health data breakthrough, in which computers will be able to do similar diagnostic tasks, by analyzing massive amounts of data, including genome sequences, risk factors, medical histories, drug interactions, and more.
Looking at this trend last year, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla made the bold claim that technology will replace 80 percent of companies eventually. The reality is probably more nuanced: Far from threatening to put doctors out of jobs, the falling prices of data analysis and genome sequencing are enabling them with tools they could only dream of even a few years ago.
At the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Joel Dudley, Ph.D. uses Ayasdi’s products to discover how patients with certain genes are more likely to develop some diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular conditions…) as well as how genes influence the performance of a treatment, or may reveal risks of later relapses that can be prepared for.
Already 11,000 patients at Mount Sinai have had their genome sequenced, a pool large enough for meaningful analysis, although Ayasdi tells us “those are still early days for the industry. There are no plans to act on that data directly with individual patients just yet.”
Right now the Mount Sinai community is working at organizing itself to make the useful information available to the frontline staff. And another 30,000 patients may soon sign the consent form and opt in to participate in this new way to explore which care is best for them.
The exploration of big data by the enterprise is becoming less of a competitive edge and turning into more of a must-have. Similarly, hospitals may have to adopt genetic analysis as a rule of thumb sooner rather than later. Mount Sinai is unusual today in pioneering regular genetic screenings, but it soon may become commonplace.