Health database of Indians has to be more organised: expert

‘Information scattered across hospitals needs to be assimilated’

August 22, 2017 12:39 am | Updated 12:42 am IST - HYDERABAD

Doctor in lab coat using futuristic digital display with medical record card. He wants to watch results of medical tests of patient.

Doctor in lab coat using futuristic digital display with medical record card. He wants to watch results of medical tests of patient.

The next big revelation in medicine may come from the known, and not from myriad mixtures in a Petri dish, believes big data proponent and Indian origin doctor Rahul Potluri.

Dr. Potluri, whose work in the past suggested that being in a marriage or having a partner can improve prognosis after having a heart attack, says that explicit data on Indians is the need of the hour in improving the country’s healthcare.

That data, he says, is scattered across hospitals in discrete databases, which needs to be assimilated to derive meaningful conclusions.

“Aadhaar can help with just that. If a patient registers at one hospital with his Aadhaar card and later at another hospital, again with Aadhaar, data from both centres can be put together for analysis,” he told The Hindu , on the sidelines of the Advanced Cardiovascular Solutions, an international cardiology conference recently.

Dr. Potluri, a British-Indian cardiologist now working in Canada, says that the data cardiologists use in India, in many cases, are not representative of Indian population.

“All the data presented and what we try to utilise in India do not match.

That is because all the studies are done on non-Indians who are genetically very different, with different diets and they have big coronary arteries,” he said.

No data available

“So when doctors here talk about risk of having heart attacks or risk of having complications after a procedure, it is very different among Indians. There is very little data available on Indian population.”

To buttress his point, Dr. Potluri mentioned that Indians have a 20% higher risk than Caucasians of having chronic total occlusions of coronary arteries.

This condition causes complete obstruction of blood flow through the artery. These findings, he says, are derived from studies done on U.K. populations which includes several Indian patients.

“We have seen this in India too. A lot of young Indians, who should not have the condition at a young age, are having it. This condition is not easily treatable at present in the country and it is going to be a huge problem,” he added.

Big data, according to Dr. Potluri, can affect healthcare delivery and emphasise the importance of preventive health.

Peep into the past

“We can see what happened in the past and plan for the future. For instance, we found that during cricket matches or football world cups, more people seem to have heart attacks,” he said, while asserting that Big Data research in healthcare is about to explode in India this year.

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