About a year ago I suggested "Big Medical Data" as a potential topic for a CMAJ editorial to our editors’ writing group. I remember receiving some blank looks that sounded a lot like “Weirdo!” In fact, that may well have been upon my return from the last ICPE, or perhaps it was a year before that when I came back from participating in the working group that produced The REporting of Studies Conducted Using Observational Routinely-Collected Health Data (RECORD) Statement. Anyway, there’s something about talking to people who are working with, and developing new ways of crunching, Big Data that gets me all fired up about it. I can see an exciting future full of possibilities and I want to evangelize.
In the first plenary session at ICPE yesterday, entitled “Computer Power and Human Reason: from calculation to judgement”, speakers seemed to be defending the role of the pharmacoepidemiologist now that crunching data with computer programs can tell us just about anything we need to know. What are the virtues of the human operator vs. computer systems? “Is it the pilot or the plane that’s critical for a successful flight?” ...continue reading