Herding Health Data to Provide Clearer Medical Guidance

New health-related data is arriving almost daily. Making sense of it all is a huge challenge.
Nov 9, 2020 12:00 PM ET

By Huei-Sin Ee

Get ready for a deluge of health data. The market for bedside monitors, remote health trackers, wearable medical apparatus and digital consumer devices is exploding. And that’s not even counting information collected from critical care instruments or paper questionnaires that most patients are still required to fill out prior to an appointment.

On the one hand, it’s great to have more information to use in diagnoses and treatment plans. On the other, that surge of different readings is now more a cacophony than a symphony. The instruments don’t use a common technical language, their signals sometimes conflict with one another, and their indications can be inconsistent. So, while the promise of detailed, real-time information to guide patient care may be the holy grail of medicine, it is today closer to a Tower of Babble. And it’s about to become more complicated.

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