Big Data for Global Public Health

Credits: 2.0

New data technologies offer the promise of offering cost effective ways of improving the health of populations. Mobile devices are being rolled out as health data collection tools in the field, new imaging and sensing capabilities are turning smartphones into quasi-medical devices, and new large-scale analytic techniques are making genetic and population data analysis cheaper in real-time. Together we will examine the changes in communication and information technologies and how they are emerging for health care. While there are many opportunities presented by new kinds of data, challenges and questions remain -- Do new technologies and data improve patient outcomes? Do the privacy and justice concerns outweigh possible benefits? What are the social and political costs of “data-driven health” for the global south? How are communities around the global using available tools to take control of their health care? Can better policy support innovation from multiple stakeholders while protecting the rights of citizens?

The motivation for this course is the rapidly changing environment of technology-driven health care. Within Europe and the U.S. commercial stakeholders are using the language of “disruption” to talk about innovation within well-established health care sectors. BRIC country innovators are creating exciting challenges to the Euro/US dominated global health care industry, rolling out innovations that build on commercially available tools like the iphone. In what ways can new technologies help to create better, more locally nuanced solutions to public health challenges? Do these technologies necessarily “disrupt” existing government and social norms and regulations? That is the challenge that we will take up in the course.