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31 Oct

The Value of Public Health Data

Many people have probably heard of the term big data but may not understand its practical application in business. Generally speaking, the more data an organization has at its disposal, the easier it is to make informed decisions that will allow it to grow.

In an age where the value of data becomes more important every day, when it comes to public health, in-depth and detailed information can be used to make a profound difference in the lives of many people.

“Like many fields, public health is in the midst of a data revolution,” Tina Rosenberg wrote in The New York Times. “Randomized control trials, pay-for-performance and value calculations, all based on data, are changing our ideas about what works and how to finance it.”

Public health is the latest industry embracing big data and putting it to practical use. As the world’s population continues to expand, ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the individual is of paramount importance. The best way to achieve these lofty goals is to collect and parse through public health data that can create meaningful change for everyone.

“Our society in general is becoming more data minded,” said Heather Beaird, an assistant professor of biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental sciences in the College of Public Health at Kent State University. “In big business, people want evidence to base their decisions on and it’s the same in public health, which is also a business, it just happens to be the business of people. But we make better decisions when we have data to back them.”

Of course, dealing with such massive amounts of information can be challenging across any industry. But in the public health sector, the benefits are numerous enough to make the use of public health data in shaping policy and better understanding the epidemiology behind diseases and other health related matters, worthwhile.

“The next step is increased collaboration to enable sharing of data, which is essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge to improve human health,” said Dr. William Suk, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s Superfund Research Program.

The SRP is a university-based project that aims to uncover the link between hazardous substances and the way they affect both the environment and human health.

The public health sector is one that will continue to expand and draw attention from those who want to do work that matters and make a difference in the lives of others. Big data is a big step in this process and in public health the more people there are to help, the better.