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Oh Data Where Art Thou?


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A critical view of ehealth data and their interpretation, as presented at Pint of Science 2017.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Oh Data Where Art Thou?

  1. 1. @mariawolters / / Oh Data, Where Art Thou? Maria Wolters School of Informatics University of Edinburgh #pint17 1 References: See
  2. 2. The Argument • Data points have no meaning by themselves
 • When assigning meaning to data, we need to consider context: • When • Where • Life history • Social norms • External Events Context of measurement Context of person 2
  3. 3. Data Points: Step Count, Tears (in mL) 3 Simba Pipsqueak. 200[9?] - May 12, 2017
  4. 4. Symptom and Cause ❖ p(cause | symptom): what is the likely illness, given the observable signs? ❖ p(symptom | cause): what symptoms is a person likely to exhibit, given the cause? ❖ p(symptom): what symptoms is a person likely to exhibit ❖ p(cause): what causes are likely? 4
  5. 5. Diagnosis is hard ❖ Many illnesses have similar symptoms ❖ Symptoms can be caused by events that are not illness ❖ Illnesses are like buses: they come in groups 5
  6. 6. 6
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  8. 8. ❖ „You have dementia. Here’s a leaflet. Goodbye.“ ❖ „That doesn’t mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly, and gets diabetes.“ 8 Mike Mulvaney, US Director of Office of Management and Budget
  9. 9. Detecting Symptoms is Hard ❖ Sensory loss makes it hard to perceive test instructions ❖ Self image makes it hard to admit problems ❖ Fear of retaliation means that problems are actively hidden ❖ Measurement is work ❖ Measurement is always inaccurate to some degree 9
  10. 10. TRACKER when who job (e.g. nurses) allergies wrist anatomy forgetting to wear to bringto charge worried well techy motivated for change not tracking during lazy days device breaks no longer holds charge lost / stolen what swimming weightlifting team sports no Internet style / fashion stigma Self-reported effort if there is a need
  11. 11. The Argument: Reprise • When estimating p(cause), p(symptom), p(cause|symptom), and p(symptom|cause), we need to consider context: • When • Where • Life history • Social norms • External Events Context of measurement Context of person 11
  12. 12. What Can We Do? ❖ Every diagnosis is a working hypothesis - don’t believe anyone who sells certainty ❖ Consider the context - measurement, person, politics Questions? / @mariawolters Slides on 12 References: See