Using Data to Make a Difference

Dr. Tricia Barfoot is a Data Scientist who helps inform the product design and analytics for MemorySparx

Dr. Tricia Barfoot is a Data Scientist who helps inform the product design and analytics for MemorySparx

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has met me, but I love data. Lucky for me, there is lots and lots of data to love and the stockpile grows every day.  According to Forbes, we humans collectively create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day – that’s 2 and a half billion billions! Over the last two years alone, we have generated more than 90% of the data that presently exists. Our dependence on the Internet, our love affair with social media, our quest for the perfect selfie, our fascination with connected “smart” devices - all generate data as we go about our day. In the course of a day my services push all sorts of data to me, such as the previous day’s weather stats, how much time my kids spend playing video games, and how many people liked my latest tweet.

But as much as I love data itself, I find the deepest satisfaction when I can sift through the pile and find a nugget of knowledge that makes a difference – data that confirms an assumption, helps make a better decision or explains the “why” behind something. Where the “needle in a haystack” analogy used to apply, these days we are looking for a needle in a haystack in a field of haystacks. Maybe you feel the same – that you know there are nuggets of knowledge that could make a difference in your day, but as you look at the field of haystacks of data that are available to you, you really don’t know where to start.

What is the one piece of information I could use right now to make my day better?

In a third year University Statistics class, I first learned the law of parsimony dating back to the 14th century, affectionately known as Ocaam’s Razor. Here I was taught to “shave off” any components of a model that are really not needed to explain an outcome.  By doing so, the model will become simpler and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies. Fast forward through many statistical discoveries since that class, and I bring a similar razor when looking for the right place to start in my haystacks of data. Think simple. Think of the single next right step. Think “what is the one piece of information I could use right now to make my day better?”. Allow yourself to “shave off” the rest and reap the benefits of simplicity.

The creators of MemorySparx are committed to these principles. In considering the design of our product, we spend many hours finding that “right place to start” with the data. We ask healthcare professionals, “What is the one piece of information that you could use right now to provide better care?”. We ask care recipients and their loved ones, “What is the one piece of information that you wish your care team knew?”

As the company’s Data Scientist, I comb through the haystacks to learn what is most important to people and find great satisfaction when I discover an opportunity to build those important things into MemorySparx. I love using data to make a difference in a person’s day.

Curious about how we can help your health care organization make a difference each day? Request a demo or just get in touch!

Tricia Barfoot