There is currently enormous global interest in informatics platforms supporting Big Data and Precision Medicine. Unfortunately, almost all of the platforms that have been deployed, or are under development, lack several critical components and services. Specifically, these platforms very strongly support data acquisition, aggregation, and analysis activities that generate new knowledge. But after new knowledge is created, these platforms provide no place for the new knowledge to live: no place where this knowledge can be stored and curated, and from which the knowledge can be shared and rapidly applied to change health care practices. As such, these Big Data and Precision Medicine platforms support a Learning Health System without a “brain” to remember what the system has learned.
I will begin this presentation by reviewing the concepts fundamental to the Learning Health System, and relating these concepts to Big Data and Precision Medicine. I will then introduce and describe the Knowledge Grid, which includes components of an informatics platform designed capture the knowledge developed from analytics, store this knowledge in computable forms, enable it to be shared, and generate from it specific advice designed to improve health care practice. The Knowledge Grid exists as a working prototype, and will be ready for trial use in the Fall of 2016.
I will argue that, in the absence of a “brain” provided by the Knowledge Grid, Big Data and Precision Medicine will inevitably fail to achieve their vaunted potential.
Dr Charles Friedman Josiah Macy Jr. is Professor of Medical Education and Chair of the Department of Learning Health Sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School. He joined the University of Michigan in September of 2011 as Professor of Information and Public Health, and Director of the Michigan health informatics program. Throughout his career, Dr. Friedman’s primary academic interests have intertwined biomedical and health informatics with the processes of education and learning. Dr. Friedman’s department is a “first in the nation” medical school academic department dedicated to the sciences of learning at all levels from scale: from learning by individuals, to learning by teams and organizations, and learning by ultra-large scale systems such as entire nations. Prior to coming to Michigan, Dr. Friedman held executive positions at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC): from 2007 to 2009 as Deputy National Coordinator and from 2009 to 2011 as ONC’s Chief Scientific Officer. While at ONC, Friedman oversaw a diverse portfolio that included the initial funding for the SMART platform. Prior to his work in the government, Dr. Friedman was Associate Vice Chancellor for Biomedical Informatics, and Founding Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh.