Data governance and context for evidence-based medicine: Transparency and bias in COVID-19 times
In the early 90s, evidence-based medicine emerged to make medicine more data-driven. Three decades later, we have more data, but not enough context, or transparency.
Bias, lack of transparency and context, one-size-fits-all approaches. These are some key issues that emerged as we examined the field of medicine with a data science lens, attempting to gain insights into the inner workings of the medical industry.
In the push towards a COVID-19 vaccine, understanding the process through which the medical industry works is paramount to establishing a more informed assessment of the situation. We continue the conversation with David Scales, Critica chief medical officer, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a PhD in sociology.
Critica is a small NGO aiming to revolutionize the role of science in making rational health decisions. The conversation with Scales touched upon evidence-based medicine (EBM) and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as the main means via which medical research is conducted, and Cochrane as the main access point for data generated via this process.
A number of people, including Cochrane excommunicate Peter Gøtzsche, argue that there can be a lot of bias in RCTs. This has largely to do with the fact that the vast majority of RCT data come from pharmaceutical companies, creating a conflict of interest. If aggregators like Cochrane do not validate the raw data they offer access to, they may be whitewashing them.