Visualizing Health Care Data

What happens when consumers can visualize data related to their health?
Jul | 1 | 2013

Jul | 1 | 2013

As readers of my blog know, I am a Google fanboy and I’m hardly alone. When most people think of search these days, Google comes to mind. The company continues to dominate the US market. Yahoo! and Bing are afterthoughts for most of us.

Dominant isn’t the same as perfect, though. Yes, Google’s text-heavy results are usually pretty useful. At the same time, though, they can be overwhelming, even if your searches include quotes, negative keywords, timelines, and other tricks. What’s more, depending on the subject, Google search results don’t necessarily lead you to the “right” answer. Many times, we have to refine our searches and ask better questions.

It’s silly to assume that all types of searches are created equal. “Best business books of 2012” isn’t the same type of search as “address of the Bellagio hotel.” One is more subjective than the other. And, for obvious reasons, searches on personal health are special, especially in light of privacy concerns and the recent Prism scandal.

What if you could easily access all relevant health data in an secure, visual, and interactive format?

Big Data Empowering Social Health

That’s the promise behind Israeli social health startup Treato. In the course of researching my new book, I came across this neat little company. Treato lets users search any medication or medical condition and find out what people are saying about it online. It provides access to known side effects, medication comparisons, and online discussions are easily available.

When users enter a disease, they quickly see many things related to it, including conditions and symptoms associated with it, some of which may be entirely surprising.

What if you could easily access all relevant health data in an secure, visual, and interactive format?

How does Treato do this? Think data. Big Data. Users access anonymized data on more than 23 million patients. As of this writing, Treato users can quickly search through more than one billion posts, 11,000 medications, and 13,000 conditions. And visualizing the results is built in. With that capability, imagine the amazing things that you might be able to learn about your health.

Typing in cancer below, I saw the following results:


(There’s much more you can do. Check it out for yourself.)

While there’s no guarantee, presenting information in visual ways like this may well lead to better, more informed decisions.

Treato’s Tech Lesson

In Too Big to Ignore, I wrote about how many companies these days extensively use natural language processing and other emerging technologies behind the scenes. At a high level, NLP lets people make sense out of unstructured data, deriving meaning among different words and images.

Rod Smith of IBM and I recently discussed the massive opportunity in healthcare for Big Data. Treato and a panoply of other startups correctly view the healthcare system as broken and in need of massive disruption. This has been true for a while now. Big Data only raises the stakes.

Simon Says

Yes, we are awash in a sea of data. Thankfully, there are more powerful boats and oars to help us not only survive, but to get where we ultimately need go to.

Look into powerful solutions like Big Data-friendly technologies like Hadoop, NoSQL, NewSQL, and NPL. They’re real. They’re here. They’re game-changers.

If a start-up can effectively leverage Big Data, then mid-market firms can as well. Don’t try to cram everything into a relational database.


What say you?

I wrote this post as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Mortorano

    Well Treato has come up with an excellent approach!! I’m sure by visualizing health care data through online from an exact place, without any complication people can actually save time and hesitation. I really like the advance thinking Treato have planned. Putting the right data into right direction is crucial and glad to see such Israeli social health startup has come up with such idea. It’s really a great blog post I’ve read today. Thanks for nice addition.



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