Skip to content

Google Wave and Medicine

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the medical and scientific implications of Google Wave that might revolutionize the way we communicate nowadays. But it’s hard to demonstrate its power without real examples. This video shows how to combine Google Wave with the medical data stored in Google Health:

Artificial Intelligent Doctor:

Systematic and thorough: can check millions of variables
Not emotionally involved: will not stop after finding the first problem
System evolves: continuously improves over time

Phil Baumann has recently covered this topic in details.

Remember the BingyBot? Now imagine introducing a clinical bot which is powerful enough to provide pertinent information to enhance the entire collaborative effort. Let’s call it ClinyBot. Say the bot can access research data or even link to relevant clinical trials for which the patient/case relates.

Related entries:

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. ghettoblackify #

    interesting video

    October 17, 2009
  2. What are the implications for participatory medicine? Is it possible that a patient, or patient community, or network of patients who don’t know each other, can use a Wave to unearth data about their disease that has not yet come to the attention of their clinicians? (And of course, is it possible for clinicians to do the same)

    Can e-patients have the role of “wave-throbbers,” sending out ripples and harvesting what comes back?

    Will it be possible for a Wave to notice things in my health data that no human has noticed?

    Will it eventually become possible to tell a wave, simply:
    ~look for problems

    Wow. Brilliant illustration, @Berci.

    October 17, 2009
    • Thank you, Dave!

      I think, based on the descriptions about the robot Phil Baumann mentioned in his entry, it sounds like a possible method. Though I don’t think it can ever be as accurate as the human mind, it can find some associations that could be interesting for the patients and their doctors. And it only can obtain information from databases it has access to (e.g. Google Health).

      Even if it looks promising now, let’s wait until we can all try these features ourselves and can see how it works in practice.



      October 17, 2009
      • Of course we must see how it works in practice! :) Even the astounding Mozilla introduction (see comment 2 on the OpenScience post gave no clue of what would eventually unfold, yet its potential clearly changed everything.

        I should have been more careful in my wording: I didn’t mean to suggest that any present-day bot could come close to achieving what a brilliant human mind can do. Otoh, bots can do (at large scale) what would require a million minds to do – searching massive amounts of information, and bringing potentially interesting or important things to the attention of those minds.

        After all, in your video, there’s nothing magical about detecting the penicillin problem – nothing that a hundred watchful clerks couldn’t have found. But chasing through mountains of detail is not the highest use of a sharp human mind.

        To extend this to Christensen/Hwang’s model, I’m guessing that a Wave could be great in what they call “precision medicine” – cases where there’s no medical mystery, we just need to reliably implement well known rules and practices.

        Yet I still see potential for raw, brute-force, massive scale data crawling, too. Its payoff would be longer term, but when people are dying for want of a cure, long term is a better bet than never.

        And what about crawling through the mountains and mountains of unpublished research data??? This is what dedicated humans have done, not to mention the potential to share NEVER-published results of e-patient research as described in chapter 5 of the e-patient white paper

        October 17, 2009
  3. Berci,

    I’m curious to see how the API develops – certainly Wave introduces a novel approach to collaboration and aggregation. The “infusion” (or perhaps suffusion is a more apt word) of robots is perhaps the most interesting feature.

    HealthWave would certainly be an instance of the ClinyBot I’m hoping to see.

    Now, the issue is seeing these tools deployed in experiments – to see how effective an influence such technologies are in enhancing collaboration between helathcare professionals and patients.


    October 17, 2009
  4. You guys should definitely talk to Gilles Frydman of ACOR (@GFry) about the rare disease communities there.

    Could Google Wave bring the “long tail” concept to medical research?? Aggregating dispersed information to leapfrog to levels of preliminary knowledge that significantly accelerate getting to causes, detection, and treatments??


    October 17, 2009
  5. Phil,

    Yes, we totally agree. Let’s see this in action. Let’s try this with an experimental group and see whether it really works.


    October 17, 2009
  6. Like Dave said… Wow!
    Speaking of…Dave – your question has some very interesting implications for patients. Up until this point, ‘crowdsourcing’ patient data has been a complicated process that few have tried… this could have the potential to make these types of discoveries open to anyone.
    If you need any warm bodies (uhh, or warm wave accounts?) to help test anything, I would be more than happy to help out.

    October 17, 2009
  7. Pauline Sweetman #

    It does look interesting but as someone that has been involved in ‘traditional’ cpoe and emr systems there is still a lot to be considered. One of the things clinicians complain of is time taken to either enter information or prescribe meds. The user interface will have to be much better, and the wave’s ability to allow freetext is both a benefit and a nightmare. Spelling errors will prevent allergy checking unless there is a structured database underpinning the query.

    I’d love to be involved in the development of this, I can see the potential. Just worried too much development will happen in the ‘wrong’ direction.

    Great article, thanks.

    October 28, 2009
    • You’re very right: there’s more to adoption than just the technology. There are – not to sound academic – anthropological and other factors to address.

      But as we gain more insight into the potential of these technologies, assess our needs and face the challenges of intelligent integration we may be seeing some advancement in clinical collaboration.

      Important comment.

      October 28, 2009
  8. Fairly detailed info for such a short post yet the short preview of the video was really nice. Informative enough to introduce the google health wave. Superb.

    January 14, 2010
  9. sobrang nakakahiya sa mga namatayan

    August 31, 2011

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Na Google Wave si brúsi zuby aj medicína
  2. 2009 in Numbers and Entries « ScienceRoll

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60,895 other followers

%d bloggers like this: