Many may be familiar with this map:
The map depicts clusters of cholera cases in the London epidemic of 1854; the cholera cases are highlighted in black. The physician, John Snow, studied the outbreak by mapping the data from an EHR onto Google Maps and discovered that cholera is spread by contaminated water. Well kind of—it was the 19th century after all. He recorded the details about the cases by talking to residents and illustrated them as dots on a map. While some state that this was the founding event of the science of epidemiology, my question is the following: Is this an example of Big Data?
While there is probably no correct answer to this question, Dr. Snow clearly combined two disparate data sources, medical records of confirmed cases and location data, and visualized the results to gain insight. His discovery influenced public health and the construction of improved sanitation facilities. He proved that the cause of cholera stemmed from contaminated water from specific pumps, debunking the popular belief that cholera spread by breathing bad air. Dr. Snow integrated unstructured data sources to find correlations without definitive causation, as he was unable to show the bacterium Vibrio cholerae by chemical and microscope examination. Thus, my answer is the following: Yes, John Snow was a Big Data user. What do you think? One and a half centuries later, are we sufficiently integrating oral health data to make an impact on dental public health?
The preparations for the Big Data for Oral Health Knowledge; How to get the Big Answers workshop scheduled for March 14, 2015 are progressing nicely. We are excited that a few more invitees have accepted our invitation—again, just to name a few: Dr. Bill Kohn (Delta Dental), Dr. Jane Weintraub (Dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr. Muhammad Walji (Associate Dean for Technology Services & Informatics at the School of Dentistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston), Dr. Damien Walmsley (ADEE) and Dr. David DuChene (OmicronHealth).
Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Chris, Khalil, Lynn and Heiko
Christopher H. Fox, DMD, DMSc Executive Director International & American Associations for Dental Research
Khalil Yazdi, PhD CIO in Residence, Cloud Services Program Development at Internet2
Lynn Johnson, PhD Professor of Dentistry, School of Dentistry Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness Clinical Professor, School of Information The University of Michigan
Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA Associate Professor, Dental Public Health Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Executive Director, Center for Informatics in Oral Health Translational Research School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh