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You’ve been there. In the doctor’s office that is. You’re not feeling well and you want to tell the doc all about it, but he wants to ask you questions like: How would you rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10? When did this start? How long does it last? How would you rate your sleep 1 to 10?

You answer the questions with what is, at best, a guess. And the doctor makes assessments based upon your answers. But is what he calls an “8” the same thing you call an 8? And what does “sleeping well” actually mean? (And, yes, we know there’s information like heart rate, blood pressure, lab work data to consider, but we’re putting that aside for the moment.)

Now forget about yourself and think of a Parkinson’s patient. Michael J. Fox or Intel’s Andy Grove may be the ones we “know” best, unless there’s someone in our personal lives who has been affected. Their doctors probably include some physical tests in their visits, like asking them to touch their fingertips to their noses or to walk a straight line by placing one foot in front of the other.

Patient performance on activities like these varies. We all have good days and bad. And treatments and research, especially for those who deal with hard-to-manage diseases are, on a large part, based on what a doctor observes during an office visit, what data a patient provides at a specific point in time and what existing medical research suggests.

This isn’t bad medicine. It’s everyone doing their best given the available tools.

Up until now, that is.

Changing the Game

Today the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, data scientists, medical professionals and their patients have an opportunity to change the game, and Intel and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) are going for it.

This afternoon Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, and Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation announced a collaboration aimed at improving research and treatment for Parkinson's disease.

It consists of a new big data analytics platform that detects patterns in data collected from wearable devices used to monitor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients from which medical researchers and other professionals can glean insights.