SUCCESS OR DEATH IS BASED IN MARYLAND. The blog highlights one veteran's journey through what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Why User Data Matters. The Greater Good

Data science is one of those fields that is becoming a buzzword among startups and across Internet and software companies. In the world of government, being able to mine through thousands of gigabytes is crucial in many operations, from intelligence to health. With the troves of information, a platform incorporating data from the social graph and measured analytics will help important agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs and other large government organizations, as well as law enforcement entities from the top down, better help their people. As a result, they will provide a better experience and in the case of health, better patient outcomes and care for their users.

The VA health system, despite its pitfalls, is a rather robust, yet very insulated system. There is little to no communication outside to providers who are civilians, even those who take Tricare. Now, given all the conflicts, police actions, humanitarian missions, etc. that military forces have been involved in, the common theme is the service member is on the receiving end of everything. With everyone involved, it is a very valuable trove of data to collect and eventually use to help forecast the needs of the department and supporting organizations. Knowing the rates veterans are aging, the causes of ailments, the frequency and types of injuries, and many statistics can help the government better align and prepare care, and consequently, organize and plan facilities.

This all goes back to digital infrastructure.

Social media has become ubiquitous across the Internet, and when service members voluntarily provide information, then the data can be rolled up and analyzed. In a closed platform tied with other demographics where the entire experience can be managed, this not only benefits the users but also allows the platform to contribute to an enhanced experience where they receive their care or influence how that data is recorded out in the field. Capturing data at the ground level with providers is crucial in not only maintaining continuity of care, but it also allows forecasting of potential problems in different areas, whether it be a city, agency, or specific population of people.

As the platform expands, and more and more providers of various types sign up, accessing patient records and contributing to the foundation of key data, no matter where the patients are, we will be able to contribute in a more involved level in the public health sphere, perhaps shaping the way major agencies and personnel plan and organize health policy and even outbreaks. Social media and data analytics have already provided valuable information since people gravitate on platforms like Facebook when they hear about a disease outbreak like Ebola or even things like Bird Flu.

The potential for the data provided by users to offer important insights into how entire communities can benefit is endless. Health, intelligence, construction, the possibilities go on and on. 

It isn’t a matter of prompting users to offer their information. It’s mostly already there. The most important thing is what positive benefit comes from what we have once we put it to good use.

* * * * *

This blog originally appeared on my LinkedIn profile.

Moving Beyond Inaction

Veterans and the ACA. Why it Matters