Research Track

Health & Data

We analyze the unintended consequences of health data collection; equitable outcomes in data-centric approaches to health; and what constitutes healthy behavior in the context of technology use.

Team Members

Recent Work

About This Track

Health & Data examines the emerging health risks and opportunities presented by new technologies and data practices.

The sheer volume of digital medical data–and associated methods of analysis–is outpacing both public understanding and the ability to assess the social impact of these new healthcare practices. At the same time, human health is being positively and adversely affected by our increasing reliance on internet and information technologies that proliferate beyond the medical sphere.

Through empirical investigation, the Health and Data team seeks to understand the evolving and complex interdependence of our health and technology practices, including precision medicinealgorithmic decision-making in clinical care, bias in genome databasesethical collection of datahealthy interactions with tech platforms and mobile devices, and the spread of health misinformation online.

While the increasing ubiquity of data and automation in health care enables novel approaches to a wide range of diseases and health concerns, Health and Data initiative projects underscore that these technologies may also exacerbate certain health disparities. Several Health and Data projects examine the extent to which new technologies can address historical disparities in data collection and access to healthcare–and, in turn, introduce new forms of inequity.

Focus Areas

Fairness in Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is a growing field that aims to use multiple data sources to tailor medical care to individuals. The Fairness in Precision Medicine project aims to critically assess the potential for bias and discrimination in health data collection, sharing, and interpretation.

Healthy Behavior With Tech

Internet companies have prioritized engagement as the best metric to measure success, creating an economy where attention becomes the most important currency, even at the cost of users’ mental health. This work analyzes the mental health and behavioral impact of an increasingly technology-centric life, then explores potential design interventions and solutions.

Health Equity in the Information Age

Digital information technologies–including electronic medical records, health risk detection and prediction algorithms, and other computational analytics–are increasingly becoming a part of data-informed, innovative biomedical research and care. At the same time, stark health disparities exist within populations. This set of projects investigates how and whether information technologies impact health equity.

All Work

  • report
    Data & Society
    Fairness in Precision Medicine is the first report to deeply examine the potential for biased and discriminatory outcomes in the emerging field of precision medicine; "the effort to collect, integrate and analyze multiple sources of data in order to develop individualized insights about health and disease." Read more
    February 2018
  • report
    Data & Society
    The Precision Medicine National Actor Map is the first visualization of the three major national precision medicine projects--All of Us Research Program, My Research Legacy, Project Baseline--and the network of institutions connected to them as grantees and sub-grantees. The map was developed for the Fairness in Precision Medicine initiative at Data & Society. Read more
    February 2018
  • report
    Data & Society
    What is Precision Medicine? is a general audience white paper by Dr. Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan that introduces and outlines the emerging field of precision medicine; the effort to collect, integrate and analyze multiple sources of data in order to develop individualized insights about health and disease. Read more
    February 2018
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