Past Program

Mar 22 - Mar 27, 2015

The Promise of Data: Will this Bring a Revolution in Health Care?


It has now become an orthodoxy that we are moving into the age of 'Big Data'. This derives from ever increasing processing power and the vast surge in connectedness - with mobile technologies at the forefront and sensors in nearly all appliances, we are set to have 50 billion devices by 2020 connected in the cloud. It is argued that medical decisions can be truly evidence based, combining the most complete medical science with personal data, drawing where appropriate on 24/7 monitoring through mobile devices and patient reported outcome measures. Lifestyle advice and preventive action can be honed with ever greater accuracy. Benefits from treatment, its best timing, lowest cost, better understood risk, and more predictable side-effects should all flow from this data transition, bringing lower costs and higher value.

Corporations are competing in both investment and rhetoric. In 2013 Google launched a new subsidiary, Calico, which Larry Page claimed would represent 'moonshot thinking around health care', and there have been many similar claims. But how is all this justified? And how can we ensure that those advances which do arise from this new control of data truly benefit patients, rather than just the provider - and that this will be a benefit distributed across the social gradient and globally?

What are the risks on the horizon? Data is often siloed and used for competitive advantage. Protocols around privacy could be tested to destruction; for instance, it is possible to reverse engineer anonymized data to identify individuals. Forbes magazine even reports a case of medical data being sold on EBay. How might these risks be best mitigated?

This session reviewed the claims for Big Data and its true potential, and sought to identify the conditions under which it should yield the greatest benefits to patients and populations.



Related News

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Nov 10, 2015

The Promise of Data - Will This Bring a Revolution in Health Care?

Apr 22, 2015

Hamish Tomlinson and Yan Yu - How Can We Teach Students About How Big Data Is a Huge Opportunity to Improve the Health Care of Patients?

Apr 22, 2015

Birgir Jakobsson - "We Have a Unique Situation with Our System to Get Health Care That Is Really State of the Art"

Apr 22, 2015

Elliott Fisher - "How Can We Use Big Data to Improve the Value of Health Care?"

Apr 21, 2015

Amel Farrag - "I Thank Salzburg Global Seminar for Giving Me This Chance to Learn from These Expert People"

Apr 21, 2015

Jörgen Nordenström - The Purpose of Big Data in Health Care Is to Improve Value for the Patient

Apr 20, 2015

Keith Lindor - "People Want Health and We Sell Them Health Care"

Apr 14, 2015

Veronique Roger - "The Highlights Are the Desire, Passion and Commitment to Action That Came out of This Week"

Apr 13, 2015

Al Mulley - "I Have Found Salzburg to Be a Wonderful Place to Cross Contexts and Borders"

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Sara Riggare - "At the Quantified Self I Forget I Have Parkinson's Disease"

Mar 31, 2015

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Mar 26, 2015

The Promise of Data - Day Four - Ownership and Possession of Data

Mar 25, 2015

The Promise of Data - Day Three - Generational Differences, Patient Expertise and Health Equity

Mar 24, 2015

Bertalan Mesko - Is 3D Printing the Most Disruptive Trend for the Future of Medicine?

Mar 24, 2015

The Promise of Data - Day Two - Customization, Collaboration and Solutions

Mar 23, 2015

The Promise of Data - Day One - Hopes and Fears

Mar 22, 2015

The Promise of Data - Will this Bring a Revolution in Health Care?

Suggested Readings

NIH Launches a United Ecosystem for Big Data

National eHealth-the strategy for accessible and secure information in health and social care


PCORnet: The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network

Developing the Sentinel System — A National Resource
for Evidence Development

Is Size the Next Big Thing in Epidemiology?

Addressing Social, Economic and  Environmental Determinants of Health and the Health Divide in the Context of Sustainable Human Development

Review of social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region: executive summary

The Digital Patient

Crossing the Qualilty Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century

The Applicability of Lean and Six Sigma Techniques to Clinical
and Translational Research

Health Challenges of the Future – a perspective from 1973

How Intermountain Trimmed Health Care Costs Through Robust Quality Improvement Efforts

Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genomic Medicine

Positive lymph nodes do not metastasize

Optimal timing of pulmonary metastasectomy - is a delayed operation beneficial or counterproductive?

An Extensible Biomarker Curation Approach and Software Infrastructure for
the Early Detection of Cancer

A Distributed Information Services Architecture to Support Biomarker
Discovery in Early Detection of Cancer

Bringing Big Data to Personalized Healthcare: A Patient-Centered

Big data: the next frontier for innovation in therapeutics and healthcare

Big data analytics in healthcare: promise and potential

Distant metastases do not metastasize

Application of statistical process control in healthcare improvement: systematic review

Higher Integrity Health Care Evidence-Based Shared Decision Making

Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Growth in Medical Care - How Might More Be Worse?

Defining a Standard Set of Patient-centered Outcomes for Men
with Localized Prostate Cancer

Patient And Family Engagement: A Framework For Understanding The Elements And Developing Interventions And Policies

Quantified Self-Public Health Symposium April 2014

What happens when patients know more than their doctors? Experiences of
health interactions after diabetes patient education: a qualitative patient-led study

Drowning in Big Data -  Finding Insight in a Digital Sea of Information

Daily Newsletters

Download the daily newsletters from the session here:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4


All photos can be viewed and downloaded on Flickr 


Participant Profile

This session will bring together healthcare policy makers, practitioners and providers; data/information technology experts; patient and civil society groups; ethicists and experts in intellectual property and the law; corporate representatives; and the media.

Session Format and Key Questions

The session is envisioned as being highly participatory, with a strong focus on building new insights, aggregating perspectives and experiences from different sectors, areas of expertise and regions.

  • In what ways might health and health care benefit from the enhanced availability and management of data?
  • How well based are current claims for ‘Big Data’, and what tangible benefits are already on the horizon?
  • How can we ensure that enhanced knowledge is translated rapidly and effectively into practice?
  • How will we ensure that that translation into practice accords with the true needs and preferences of patients, and not just providers?
  • How equitably distributed will any benefits be at different points on the social gradient or in different parts of the world?
  • What are the implications for privacy and its protection?

Session Outcomes and Impact

  • An assessment of the claims for Big Data and its true potential, identifying the conditions under which it should yield the greatest benefits to patients and populations;
  • Mapping of the links between social and physical environments, and consequent health determinants, where data at its new scale could also help us understand and manage the complexity underlying sustainability as a whole;
  • Cross border learning and transmission of best practice in the regulatory and ethical management of data at its new scale;
  • Ongoing networking and collaborations among participants and the institutions they represent as the impact of the data revolution unfolds in the years ahead.