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NYU Medical School Adds Big Data to Course Requirements
December 11, 2015 Blog big data

This article was originally published by and can be viewed in full here

For generations, physicians have been trained in basic science and human anatomy to diagnose and treat the individual patient.

But now, massive stores of data about what works for which patients are literally changing the way medicine is practiced.

The concept of having students learn to use health data is catching on quickly. NYU is offering its database and program to other medical schools; seven are already incorporating it into their curriculum.

Figuring out how to access and interpret all that data is not a skill that most physicians learned in medical school. In fact, it’s not even been taught in medical school, but that’s changing.

First and Second year students at NYU Medical School is required to do what’s called a “health care by the numbers” project. Students are given access to a database with more than 5 million anonymous records. The project, funded in part by an effort of the American Medical Association to update what and how medical students are taught, also includes a companion database for roughly 50,000 outpatients. It contains data from NYU’s own faculty practices — scrubbed to ensure that neither the patients nor the doctors can be identified. Students can use tools provided by the project to “look at quality measures for things like heart failure, diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure and then drill down and look at the performance of the practice as a whole and individual doctors.”