“I treat people, not pictures”. That is what a rehabilitation physician friend of mine told me when I mentioned to him that I had the MRI of my knee that I injured while working out recently. After I mentioned that an orthopedic surgeon wanted to perform surgery, my friend told me that surgery was not always necessary and that some non-surgical procedures were worth trying out. But first, he wanted to conduct a hands on physical exam to see what was going on in and around my knee.
My conversation led me to think about how we’ve become reliant on “big data” to guide discussions with others. Managers may look at “team engagement” studies to see how well supervisors are managing staff and will use that data for performance reviews. Airlines use data from the frequent flyer data banks to determine who gets to walk down the red carpet or blue carpet (see last blog post). And we may rely on Angie’s List reports to decide which air conditioning repair guy comes to our house to add more coolant.
There is no reason we should not look to use data to help us make informed decisions but that the data presents on portion of information and not all the information. I’ll bring my MRI over to make sure its part of the data when I see the doctor but I want to make sure that he sees me too.