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future health 100

David Eddy
San Francisco, CA


Healthcare HAL. Medicine is a culture of experimentation, but also tradition. And then sometimes it's just "enlightened guesswork." A heart surgeon with a PhD in mathematics, Dr. Eddy began challenging assumptions about the perceived efficacy of popular medical procedures in the 1980s. He won an award for demonstrating that regular Pap smears in women of low cancer-risk are useless, and later showed that common treatments to deter glaucoma were harmful. (Today we call this supply-sensitive care). Over the years he exposed that most medical decisions are not informed by facts, and eventually coined a phrase for the solution: "evidence-based medicine." His work is now represented by Archimedes, a powerful database that marries mathematical modeling to reams of data about human physiology, disease and interventions to predict what works, and what doesn't. Archimedes has been helpful in selecting cost-effective treatments for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but like any "AI" computer, its success depends on the data fed into it. Garbage in = garbage out. So Eddy regularly tests Archimedes against historic clinical trial data, to be sure "healthcare HAL" will return the correct results. Archimedes is now owned by Kaiser-Permanente, but in October 2007, Eddy received a $15.6 a million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He's using it to build a web version, called ARCHeS, which will be accessible to a broader range of customers, like small companies or nonprofits. 

To Business Week, 2006: "Our mission is that in 10 years, no one will make an important decision in health care without first asking: `What does Archimedes say?"'”

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