How big data can personalize patient care: Dr. Michael Ast

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Michael Ast, MD, has strong hopes for the power of data in orthopedics.

Dr. Ast, of New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery, spoke on the "Becker's Healthcare Spine and Orthopedic Podcast" about data analytics and how big data will better personalize care.

This is an edited excerpt. Listen to the full episode here.

Question: What do you think is the most interesting orthopedic technology out there?

Dr. Michael Ast: I think everything drives to trying to understand data. Our ability to gather data is changing dramatically whether it's through people's smartphones or their watches, or actual smart implants or anything that can help us monitor patients and gather data. We can understand who's doing well, who's not doing well, who's going to do well with this particular surgical procedure with this plan after surgery …  all with virtual monitoring. 

All of these things are going to change the way we treat patients because it's all gonna get more and more personalized. What we're saying is, the more data we get from the more patients, the more personalized we can make it for each patient. That seems somewhat counterintuitive; big data leads to big decisions. But I actually think some of the opportunities in the large data sets and in our ability to gather and analyze huge amounts of data will allow us to personalize things in a very specific way where we understand based on not just the easy things you can get to from a physical exam and a quick history, but from a patient sociodemographic status from where they live in the world, from what they have access to from how far it is to their next physical therapy appointment to the local hospital, to this or that. We can start to really analyze the things that make unique people's situations unique, and then we can tailor to that. That's the thing that technology is really gonna help us do in the next five to 10 years. 

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