Monday, August 27, 2012

Romney’s “secretive data mining”–could the same techniques be used for clinical trial enrollment?

Romney has been “exposed” as using “secretive data mining techniques” to find donors to his campaign in traditional Democratic strongholds. (These techniques can be learned in any of these free online courses offered through Coursera and Udacity along with the massive databases collected by the different parties.)

Of course, my thought is, can we use these techniques to find potential participants in clinical trials? I think that if we can work out the privacy issues, this represents a useful tool for clinicians to find not just trial participants, but patients who need to be treated, but for some reason are not being treated. This could be a win for everybody.

Other ideas:

  • using Google trends, much like Google uses to identify flu outbreaks
  • mining discussion boards
  • identifying need through blog networks

I’ll be taking the Web Intelligence and Big Data class through Coursera, so maybe I’ll get more ideas.