Lilly, Novartis and Pfizer sign up to improve

In the 20 months since the White House unveiled its $200 million Big Data R&D initiative, the field has matured and begun to fulfill its potential. Now the government has inked a batch of data-related projects and signed up Eli Lilly ($LLY), Novartis ($NVS) and Pfizer ($PFE) as partners.

The three Big Pharma companies are tasked with helping to improve, in particular by making it more effective at matching patients to studies. Identifying a suitable clinical trial is currently a manual process, but the advent of electronic health records (EHRs) makes greater automation possible. The plan is to include a machine-readable "target health profile" for each clinical trial so that software can find patients with EHRs that fit the basic inclusion criteria.

Patients with profiles on Blue Button, the government personal health record service, will be able to use their data to search for studies. The service is to launch early next year with a database of 50 clinical trials from Lilly, Novartis and Pfizer. Over time, the government expects more biopharma companies to add target health profiles to their pages on Software vendors are also being encouraged to develop tools to link patients to relevant clinical trials.

The government outlined the plans for alongside a host of other initiatives at the Data to Knowledge to Action event earlier this month. BioClinica is contributing to a project to improve medical imaging and the management of streaming data, while the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) revealed it is using Big Data to predict pandemics. The OSTP project will combine outputs from sensors with existing data and develop tools to analyze the information.

Each initiative is part of a broader strategy to make better use of data the government generates. "Federal agencies collect and produce an extraordinary amount of data. The critical barrier to Big Data, which has traditionally been the infrastructure required to collect, compute and collaborate, is no longer a challenge through the use of cloud computing technology and solutions," Amazon Web Services senior manager for scientific computing Jamie Kinney told E-Commerce Times.

- read the E-Commerce Times article
- check out InformationWeek's take
- view Lilly's post
- here's the White House fact sheet (PDF)