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Coronavirus data and a dearth of trust



This is the web version of The Capsule, a daily newsletter monitoring advances in health care and biopharma. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Happy Friday, readers.

I had a fascinating conversation this morning with Doug Merritt, the CEO of data integrity and cybersecurity firm Splunk, about an issue that’s fundamental to health care in general and medical data specifically: Trust.

Health care systems can’t function without trust. That’s especially true during a pandemic when you have all sorts of contradictory information flying around.

Which is why the White House’s recent decision to begin re-routing local hospital data about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) raised concerns about data integrity and that fundamental trust.

Merritt, whose company counts the CDC and HHS among its clients, thinks the move could make sense. But only if a new centralized database about COVID meets four critical criteria.

“After 16 years of being in business at Splunk, we’ve got four data leadership principles,” Merritt says. Those include: diversity of data; transparency of data, (perhaps the most important for trust); openness; and collaboration around data.

The White House has tapped Peter Thiel co-founded Palantir and the more obscure private firm TeleTracking to lead the new data aggregation project.

“My worry would be, are they going to follow those principles? Because if you manipulate source information or restrict access, you’re going to run into problems,” says Merritt. “It’s going to be so crucial for trust on a national and global basis that they manage this properly.”

Sounds like they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a great weekend.

Sy Mukherjee

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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