Open Medical Data - What is it and how does it work?
Delta Dialog  |  Nov 22, 2022
Open Medical Data - What is it and how does it work?
Delta Dialog is The Yuan’s brand new podcast series, and its first topic of conversation is open medical data. Medicine is a very important topic in today’s society and AI and data play a very big role in many of the processes applied within the industry, from micro to macro levels.


What is open medical

“GitHub for medicine,” is how Janet Sawari explained open medical data when I asked her what we actually mean by the term. It basically is a system designed like a spiderweb where data are stored and organized so that medical professionals and researchers can access this information freely whenever needed. This also brings many challenges with it, such as it needs massive development of infrastructure. Then there is the question of human capital, e.g., how the data are going to be saved and filtered. Moreover, according to Janet Sawari, one of the key prerequisites is also the policy infrastructure which is “very critical to the success of open medical data” and if this is not done well, it could become “biggest disaster of the century.”

What is in it for me?/Why should I care?

When you get treatment in a modern hospital, the physician can see all of your recorded medical history. When researchers develop new medications or methods of treatment for your medical condition, they use data a.k.a. medical data that is shared through platforms. Open medical data, when done in the right way, can lead to immense amounts of data being shared to further improve the medical industry in terms of treatments, medication, and research, altogether spreading it worldwide.
This opens up the possibility of anyone being able to receive treatments anywhere in the world without having to wait for any data they would usually have to receive from previous healthcare centers. It can also mean that viral diseases would be identified faster so that future pandemics can be prevented. For people from the less favored part of the world, this an mean reaching data to be able to treat patients.

Open medical data improve healthcare worldwide

Applying open medical data has many advantages aside from the ones mentioned before, such as, the improvement of research and development of medication which would mean additional benefit to patients in need and pharmaceutical companies providing them. On the other hand, this kind of undertaking to be effective worldwide, needs to have the proper infrastructure which brings benefits on its own, e.g., network access. All in all, this initiative, if the prerequisites are met, the proper infrastructure put in place, and AI is well utilized, will mean better healthcare, improved network access, increased profits for pharmaceutical companies and change for the better for the world.

Further Reading:
- Education is key to opening Africa’s medical data
- Why AI? Implications for the Healthcare Industry
- A day in the life of Patricia in 2045
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