Data Set Medicine

Published on June 16th, 2016 | by Alexander Kostura


Tracking Different Treatment Plans for Common Medical Conditions

An international team of researchers from Columbia University’s Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics program, which seeks to develop valuable insights through large-scale analysis of health data, has compiled a data set of electronic health records of 250 million patients from four countries to compare treatment plans for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and depression. The researchers compared the types of drugs prescribed in each treatment plan, as well as the order they were prescribed, and examined the outcomes of these treatments, revealing substantial variations in how doctors approach these conditions. For example, 24 percent of hypertension patients received a unique sequence of drugs, suggesting the international medical community disagrees about how to best treat these common conditions.

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About the Author

Alexander Kostura is the 2016 Google public policy fellow at the Center for Data Innovation. Alex is passionate about information and communications technologies as tools for inclusive economic growth, good governance, and social welfare. He has most recently conducted research in corporate data sharing for social good, specifically in international development and humanitarian response. Alex holds a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University and an M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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