Joe Biden to healthcare leaders, technology developers, researchers: 'We need you'

At Health Datapalooza, the Vice President said healthcare technology is inhibited by data silos and a lack of interoperability.
By Jessica Davis
04:18 PM

For Vice President Joe Biden, his National Cancer Moonshot Initiative is more than just a government program – it's personal.

When his son Beau was fighting cancer, getting his different hospitals to share information was incredibly difficult, Biden said Monday at Health Datapalooza in Washington. If the Vice President of the United States struggles to get access to information, he said, how difficult is it for those patients who don't have that sort of sway?

"This matters," said Biden. "It's a matter of life and death."

Biden took to the stage at Health Datapalooza not just to share his own experiences, but to put out a call to action: While the government has taken great strides to increase access to technology-enabled healthcare, it's still not enough, he said.

More hospitals, researchers, scientists and providers need to "open access to their data to prevent cancer," said Biden.

"We have to ask ourselves, why are we not progressing more rapidly?" he said. "While our government can do a great deal, this is not the work of the government alone. We all have to work together to make progress.

[Also: Obama taps Biden to lead cancer cure 'moonshot', touts precision medicine, in State of the Union]

"Big data and computer power together provide the possibility of significant insight to what can trigger cancer," he added. "In order for this promise to be realized, we first need to generate enough data to qualify as big data."

Secondly, data needs to be more readily shared, Biden said. One of the biggest barriers to progress is different technology platforms can't talk to each other, while this is the information that will help providers make more accurate assessments. Additionally, all of those involved in healthcare must be willing to share this data in a safe and effective matter.

"We need to break down silos that keep research away from the world," Biden said. "Researchers aren't incentivized to share data, but they need to share data to find results more rapidly.

"You've developed this technology," he added. "And we need to use these same talents in the fight against cancer. To do this we have to build a network around the patient. We need you. We need your talents, your drive and your passion."

Biden asked all of those in attendance to visit to join the fight against cancer and provide insight to help shape the moonshot into a more effective initiative.

"I desperately need your input," he added. "Everyday thousands of people are dying and millions more are desperately looking for hope. That's why I'm asking individuals and organizations to join us as a part of this cancer moonshot. Tell me about your plans and solutions to overcome these barriers. Help in the fight against cancer."

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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