March 23, 2018: Data Science in the Era of Data Ubiquity


Robert M. Califf, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Data Science
Duke University
Advisor, Verily Life Sciences


Data Science in the Era of Data Ubiquity


Pragmatic clinical trials; Clinical research; Data science; Data ubiquity; Duke Forge; Data curation; Public health; Learning health system; Electronic health records; Real world evidence; Precision medicine; Stakeholder engagement

Key Points

  • Healthcare and clinical trials have benefitted from progress in electronic health records (EHR) and geospatial insight, but major work remains to be done in stakeholder engagement, data curation, and developing cultural/ethical frameworks.
  • A county-level breakdown of health outcomes and life expectancy, with stark divides by income and geography, underscores the vital role played by social determinants of health.
  • National frameworks for developing real world evidence and precision medicine are helping to build needed infrastructure to support a learning health system (LHS).
  • Technology doesn’t limit our ability to provide good information about health and healthcare, but we need good policy based in evidence and informed by stakeholder needs.

Discussion Themes

When internet searching is a primary source of information about health and healthcare, fake news becomes a public health problem.
In a learning health system (LHS), research influences practice and practice influences research, through design, implementation, evaluation, and adjustment, followed by dissemination of results to stakeholders.

The All of Us Research Program is a great start in terms of collecting data on a large scale from patients, but it would be ideal to expand from one million to 50 million participants, as other countries are ahead of the United States in the health data race.

It is necessary to always return results from research, but challenges to return of results include the reading level of populations and the comprehension of complex data.

Health educators, pharmacy techs, and allied health professionals could have a reimagined role if we could agree on principles and evidence-based best practices.



@PCORI, @PCTGrandRounds, @califf001, @DukeForge, #publichealth, #realworldevidence, #EHR, #geospatial, #learninghealthsystems, #PrecisionMedicine, #stakeholderengagement, #pragmatictrials, #pctGR