Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace

Social determinants of health (SDOH) refer to a wide variety of nonmedical factors that can influence an individual’s health. It looks at environments where people are born, live, work, play, and age. 

This has a bigger impact on our wellbeing than we think: according to a study, ninety percent of the determinants of our health are derived from our lifetime social and physical environment, not from the provision of healthcare. With so much on the line, TARTLE is working with the world’s foremost researchers and doctors on SDOH to design data packets as a part of its advocacy for public health under the Big 7 initiative.

Encouraging Proactivity Using SDOH Data Packets

In the podcast, Alex and Jason discuss how medical research is mostly reactive. It deals with the disease only after it has affected a person. This backtracking, or the habit of “putting out fires,” has a negative effect on our development and gives diseases a head start on their capacity to disrupt lives. 

So, how can we start building a disease-free society? While it may not be a possibility in our lifetime, the potential to develop the foundations for it is already present. With SDOH data packets, we can build our knowledge of how people are infected by the disease from the ground up.

This means that within a country, we can take a closer look at how disease affects rural versus urban communities in different ways. Local policymakers can start formulating stronger health legislation based on more solid data. On a global scale, we can start answering pressing questions we have had on how different cultures and locations impact the general health of entire communities. 

For example, the country of Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in the world—but why are they one of the happiest as well, with higher rates of longevity? What more can we uncover about how social determinants influence quality of life from one continent to another? With SDOH data packets, the possibilities are endless.

How SDOH Could Have Helped the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

It is difficult to estimate how one’s body would react to the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, misinformation and fake news have made it doubly challenging for health authorities to convince everyone to take the shot. However, SDOH packets may have the answer to making these injections easier to understand and access.

For example, the relevant health authorities could issue surveys for individuals who have taken the vaccine to find out who they were feeling after their first and second shot. They can then cross-reference these answers to the SDOH packets of each person, looking for potential triggers or commonalities that lead to an increased risk of complications.

Without a doubt, getting vaccinated is our best shot at beating the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been plenty of efforts to incentivize vaccinations around the world: some governments offer cash payouts, discounts, and other perks. However, the biggest incentive that people will want to follow—particularly the misinformed, who are major victims in this pandemic—is certainty that the vaccine can do good. This can be achieved through SDOH data packets, which can be used to understand how the vaccine would affect different body types and health profiles. 

It is important for authorities to be proactive about information dissemination in a world where black propaganda spreads just as fast. When people are empowered with the knowledge they need to make an informed medical decision, we have a better opportunity at decreasing the loss of human life and improving the quality of life overall.

The Importance of Sharing SDOH Data Packets

Some people are quick to shoot down the idea of SDOH data packets and the Marketplace. In the podcast, Alex briefly discusses TARTLE’s experience with trolls on social media platforms. 

Most of the time, poor communication and prejudice is caused by a lack of understanding. In this scenario, netizens hiding behind the veil of anonymity to badmouth the Marketplace without even giving it a chance to develop the framework and reach more people do not realize the negative impact that they have on the community—not just on themselves.

“What you're saying is actually complete nonsense. If you are bad mouthing something that is an opportunity to truly heal others, to give them the aid, to understand other people, you're limiting your own evolution,” Alex explained.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that we come together as a community and lift others up. Creating data packets that contain an individual’s social determinants of health could make an impact on the way entire communities are being treated. When we can formulate better health policies as a result of more informed choices, our actions have a spillover effect on future generations, quality of life, and economic stability. 

Closing Thoughts: Our Responsibility to Others

The TARTLE marketplace is the only platform in the world that gives people the opportunity to connect with organizations in a safe and secure manner, regardless of where they are located or who they are aligned to. It’s a place that empowers people on the ground to take control and be responsible for their own data in a world where we are so used to just giving it away to other companies. 

One byproduct of wielding more power over our data is an increased knowledge of the communities that we affect, the values that we hold dear, and the causes we want to support. Regardless of whether you are an individual or an entity, TARTLE aims to foster an increased sense of awareness for the plight of others by creating connections where possible.

What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

Alaska’s Health Department in Trouble

One of our big seven things we really care about at TARTLE is government and corporate transparency. Normally, when this topic comes up, we are calling one or the other out for their lack of transparency. Today, we actually get to go the other way for once. 

That is thanks to the governor of Alaska who recently ordered the justice department to investigate the state’s health department. If that sounds unusual, it is. Governments typically don’t publically announce that they are investigating themselves.

What could have prompted the unusual action? It turns out Alaska’s Health Department has been using data in ways that not the governor disapprove of, they may also have violated federal HIPAA laws. As with so many other things in the last year and a half, the situation was prompted by COVID. What they did was set a program to call senior citizens in Anchorage and enquire as to their vaccination status. The health department also outsourced that particular activity to third party contractors. The program was begun to help people understand and take advantage of the availability of the COVID 19 vaccines. However, there are several questions to be asked. Did the seniors of Anchorage actually need any help with this? Did they ask for it? Did the health department actually ask them? What about the data? Whether or not a person has a particular vaccine is sensitive medical data, data that should not be getting shared with a third party, the ones doing the actual work. Finally, one has to wonder just what the state was doing with that data in the first place. Public emergency or not, the government should not have that kind of information about individuals. How did they acquire it and for what reason did they do so? 

Once data starts to get shared like that, from one group to the next, it becomes harder and harder to track exactly what is being done with it. The sovereignty over the data has been lost and anonymity in this case is obviously also compromised. From those third parties a patient’s data could be sold virtually anywhere, including their identity. 

Fortunately, once news of the program got out (thanks to one of Anchorage citizens blowing the whistle), the governor stopped it and ordered the investigation. In at least this instance, Governor Mike Dunleavy showed real leadership. Not only did he shut down the program, he ordered the investigation, and even more importantly, did so publically. And it gets better. Dunleavy ordered a full review of all the data sharing agreements for the state, promising to put policies in place that would prevent such a thing from ever happening again. It isn’t often you see this kind of transparency coming from the government. For that he should be commended.

What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

Women and the Post COVID Digital World

We said it more than a few times – COVID has dramatically changed the world that we live in. The way we work, where we work and even the work we do is different than it was even at the beginning of 2020. There is a lot of talk now about ‘going back to normal’. That isn’t going to fully happen, no matter how much most of us might want that. That is both good and bad depending on what particular issue you might be thinking about. Today, we are going to focus a little on the ways that it’s been good. 

No, there is no attempt to minimize the trauma of people dying, broken families, and ruined livelihoods. Those are undeniably tragic and it would be better if that hadn’t happened. However, we are where we are and since we are here, there is also no reason to not acknowledge that COVID has also created some opportunities. Among those is the way it has cleared the way for women to take advantage of certain technologies. 

Unless you’ve been living at a research station on Antarctica, you are well aware that one of the biggest responses to COVID was to send a lot of people out of the office to work at home. Suddenly, thousands upon thousands of people were working not at the office, but the kitchen table. Not every job can make that transition though. There are several that require a person to be on site. Construction, cooks, and various factory jobs can’t be worked through a computer, no matter how good your wifi is. Those are also jobs that were more likely to be shut down during the height of the pandemic when governments were still locking everything down. Those jobs are also mostly populated by men. That meant that families were suddenly without their main source of income. Yes, homes where the husband is the one making the primary or even the only income are the vast majority and even with extended unemployment benefits and stimulus checks flying around, families were (and in some cases, are) coming up short. 

That left the wives to step up and try to fill the gap. Those with jobs suddenly found themselves the main income earner and those without, set about trying to find a way to earn income through the internet. Ideas that had been on the back burner for years were now able to come to the fore. Moms now had someone to watch the kids during the day so they could disappear into the back room for a few hours in order to get a website set up and work on a product to sell on Etsy. Or maybe they started up a consulting business, or wrote a book they’d been thinking about for a while. Whatever they could come up with to supplement the family income. 

Now that things are looking a bit more like normal, those opportunities are still there. That’s because in a way, many of them always were. The internet and the laptop aren’t new innovations. The necessity of COVID though was the mother of a lot of inventions. The sudden income stress promoted a lot of out of the box thinking. As a result, even as their husbands and boyfriends go back to work, plenty of wives and mothers are now able to continue to pursue a dream that might have had to wait many more years. They might have to shift their schedule a bit, but that is one of the benefits of working your own business through the internet. If you can only work from 5-8PM, you can do that. If you want to get up early for the purpose, that works too. Flexibility and creativity are the order of the day and that is a fact that is here to stay. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

Well Life ABQ, Part 2

Last time, we met Dr. Kathy Raver, founder of Well Life ABQ. Well Life is a Direct Health Care Provider. That means that they work directly with people to keep them healthy, rather than only coming in when people are sick. They also tend to avoid the involvement of insurance companies whenever possible. That saves them time and money because they don’t need to have people on staff whose only job is to deal with the insurance companies and their ponderous levels of paperwork. Now, it’s time to get into their business model.

Typically, most health practitioners work with insurance companies that are tied to an individual’s employer. The individual goes in with a problem, the doctor diagnoses the issue and sends the bill to the insurance company who pays a portion (usually most of it), which is taken out of money provided by the company which is either a separate expense or a premium taken out of the individual’s paycheck. Sounds cumbersome? 

Historical fun fact, that cumbersome model is the direct result of government intervention. Salaries were capped by federal law following WWII and in order to compete, employers started offering health care benefits instead of better wages. Even after the wage law was rescinded, the employer based health care remained and developed into the present mess.

Fortunately, Dr. Raver has adopted a vastly simpler subscription model for Well Life. For $75 a month, members get unlimited visits and no copay, plus a few other benefits. How is that possible? For one, most people don’t go every month. All of that money goes into the bank to be applied to people who do come in. Second, as previously stated, with minimal involvement from insurance companies a ton of money is saved just in not having to do all the paperwork that entails. It’s amazing what you can do without middle men in the way.

What if an employer wants to provide benefits for its employees with this model? It’s easy, they just sign up for $75 times the number of employees per month. Their employees wind up with better healthcare and the companies save money in the long run because Well Life isn’t taking on a bunch of unnecessary expenses (no $50 aspirin here) and passing the costs onto an insurance company. Not to mention the fact that preventative care keeps people out of the hospital a lot more than the reactive model. 

So, why don’t more employers sign up for this way of doing things? If it saves money and has better results why isn’t everyone adopting the direct provider model? Because inertia is real. Most people, in most times, tend to be content to do whatever they are already doing, or what others have done before. Getting people to change directions to try something different, something uncertain is always difficult. A business is no different. When a business looks at the direct care model, they see an unknown, a risk, and if there is one thing the modern business hates, especially the big ones, it is risk. 

That doesn’t mean that some aren’t trying out this different model and having good results. The problem is that they are few and far between, scattered across the country, working with different providers. As more sign on, whether it be with Well Life or some other practitioner, more will follow. Success breeds success and slowly but surely, the massive ship that is employer based health care can be turned in a new direction, one away from the status quo and towards something better.

What can you do to help make that a reality? Sign up with TARTLE and be willing to share data related to your experiences with health care. Naturally, a business likes to do some research before making a major decision like switching how they provide healthcare to their employees. You can be part of that. By providing clear and accurate data, you can help them make better choices that will benefit everyone.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Well Life ABQ Pt. 1

Well, here is something we haven’t done for a while. Recently Alex and Jason were able to sit down and have a conversation with Dr. Kathy Raver, Founder and CEO of Well Life ABQ. Well Life is an Albuquerque, New Mexico based Direct Primary Health Care Provider. That might sound like a typical word salad and therefore a typical doctor’s office. However, it is anything but. Well Life isn’t held down by all the features of modern medicine that we take for granted today, it isn’t hampered by the system as it has developed and too many regard as normal. Yet, it isn’t an overreaction to that system either. Well Life isn’t going to just hand you supplements and send you on your way. It is a serious provider that also isn’t afraid to give you some supplements if that is the best thing for you. 

Too often, healthcare really just means dealing with people when they are already sick, hitting them with a barrage of tests, a couple of prescriptions and that is the end of it. It really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with keeping people healthy. In fact, everything about the system is geared towards profiting off of people being sick, not keeping people from getting that way in the first place. Think about it, if there is nothing wrong with you, there is no reason to run all of the many expensive tests that are available which means that the insurance company can’t be charged a ton of money. In short, what we currently call traditional medicine is not traditional and it is barely medicine. Dr. Raver is trying to change that.

Dr. Raver is doing that in her little corner of the world by practicing integrated functional medicine. This style of medicine is actually more traditional in that it truly is interested in keeping people healthy and correcting what is wrong when they aren’t, rather than filling people full of prescriptions that typically only mask the real issues while probably causing a few of their own. Naturally, they use all the benefits of Western medicine and the many tools for diagnosis and treatment that it has developed. Well Life is also not afraid to look to other cultures to see if they have good ideas on how to treat certain ailments. Therefore, Dr. Raver will not hesitate to suggest various supplements if that is really the best option available. In many cases, treatments like the kinds that she sometimes recommends often find themselves accepted by Western science, she’s just ahead of the curve. 

Another area in which Well Life is ahead of the curve is in the area of insurance. Anyone who knows anything about insurance knows that it doesn’t always deliver the peace of mind that it promises. All too commonly, it adds headaches on top of blood pressure as you try to sift through mounds of paperwork to find out your claim was rejected or that you’ll wind up paying much more than expected. Health care providers will sometimes order expensive tests just because they know they can make money from the insurance company. That kind of paradigm is anything but sustainable or responsible. By minimizing their use of insurance companies, Well Life is actually able to save a lot of money because they don’t need to deal with all the paperwork that comes with insurance. They also are able to negotiate their prices for various treatments, at times getting it below the cost that a person would pay with insurance. 

Well Life ABQ represents the kind of approach that TARTLE would like to see more of in the world. They hold on to the best of the familiar and look to find the best in the new, or simply the unfamiliar. Next time, we’ll get more into their business model and how they put it into action to help their patients stay healthy.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Make Wise Choices.

Your choices matter. There’s a story I once heard about a Vietnam veteran by the name of Colonel Hall. Specifically, he was a prisoner of war (POW). Conditions in the North Vietnamese prison camps were terrible. POWs were tortured and starved as a matter of course. This particular POW lived in a 7.5 square foot cell. That kind of confinement is enough to drive most men crazy after a while. Not Colonel Hall though. The officer was a lover of golf and to keep himself sane, he trained his mind to visualize himself playing a full eighteen holes of golf every day. He visualized everything from where to hit the ball to even putting his socks on before getting to the course. When he was finally released in 1973, he managed to play a game of golf. He scored his handicap, even though he hadn’t so much as picked up a club in over seven years. In case you’re wondering, no, he didn’t spend time getting back in shape either. He basically walked out of a tiny box and six weeks later golfed the game of his life.

The mind is a powerful thing. While it can’t literally reshape reality, it is the first tool we use in doing so. Every intentional action, good or bad, begins in the mind. We conceive of something we want or want to happen, or a problem we want to solve and then act to make that conception a reality. The best ideas, the best conceptions are the ones that just don’t leave us alone. Those are the ones we catch ourselves daydreaming about, the thoughts that cause us to lean back from the computer and stare at the ceiling. Or as a kid, we might have stopped paying attention to the teacher and instead stared out the window. Today, as always, we need that impulse. We need the people who daydream.

Why? No doubt you’ve noticed that there are a lot of problems in the world that need solving. Some, bigger than they have ever been. Yet, all most people ever do is yell about it, point fingers and get mad, usually at all the wrong people, the ones who can’t or won’t do anything. But the daydreamers, the ones who see the problem and stare out the window until they think of a solution, are the people we need. Those are the people who can and will come up with creative solutions that can really make a difference. 

Already, these dreamers are bearing fruit. It’s been known for some time now that there are certain bacteria that can actually eat plastic. Once we learn how to best use the microbes, they could go a long way to reducing the microplastics in our oceans. Speaking of plastic, another dreamer has begun using plastic to build roads. This process keeps plastic out of landfills and oceans, while also helping build roads that need less maintenance. 

Another fine example of this kind of creative environmentalism is the Plastic Bank. This initiative was begun both to reduce the amount of plastic garbage littering the third world and provide an economic resource to people in that same area. People bring in plastic in exchange for money. That plastic is then fed into 3D printers and used to make products such as belts that can then be sold around the world. 

This is what we are talking about, dreamers with creative, out of the box thinking that are helping to solve real problems. We need everyone to spend a little time daydreaming, to sit back and imagine what they might be able to do to build a better world. And then, take those ideas out of their imagination and work to make it a reality. Maybe that’s making a breakthrough on solar panels, maybe it’s just sharing your data through TARTLE so others can use it to help solve problems. The choice is yours, but choose you must.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Climate and Health

They say it’s a small world and getting smaller. In many ways that’s true. Thanks to the many advances in transportation and communication over the last hundred years, it’s easy to think sometimes that the world is more like a big town. Especially with the rise of social media over the last ten years, we can actually have regular conversations with people thousands of miles away. Even though TARTLE is a small company, we have team members all around the world. So yes, it’s very easy to think of the world as small and getting smaller. Yet, it’s still very physically big. When something happens on the other side of the Atlantic or even on the other side of the country, it’s very easy to think of it as not really affecting us, certainly not how it might be affecting our health. 

Yet, this where we have to realize that while the world may be big enough that things don’t directly affect us, it is still small enough that we are indirectly affected by a lot of things. There are plenty of examples. 

Turn the clock all the way back to 9/11/01 when terrorists flew a pair of passenger liners into the World Trade Center in New York. For weeks after, flights were grounded. That led to a measurable increase in the amount of sunlight reaching the earth, sunlight that normally is blocked by contrails. 

More recently are all the wildfires in the western United States in the summer of 2020. Dry weather and poor forest management caused what in the US was a worse than average wildfire season. The immediate effects were of course loss of millions of acres of forest, loss of homes for many and loss of life. So much burned that it also had a significant effect on the amount of sunlight reaching the ground. So much particulate went into the upper atmosphere that it affected the colors during sunrise and sunset at least as far away as Michigan. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the sheer amount of smoke and other particles in the air is going to have an effect on people’s respiratory health. In fact, it’s actually possible that the wildfires and the subsequent respiratory effects helped fuel the summer COVID spike that was seen in the United States.

Or recall the big storm that went through the plain states last fall, destroying millions of acres of crops. Fallout from that affects food prices which in turn affects people’s ability to get quality food, which in turn affects long term health. 

One doesn’t even need to invoke climate change to make this point. If a water treatment plant is poorly maintained or its capacity is overwhelmed due to excess water usage or too many chemicals getting flushed down the drain it can cause a failure that leads to significant river contamination, which has a downstream effect on fish and other things, such as treatment plants that take water out of the river for nearby towns. 

A single cigarette tossed out the window or poorly managed campfire can turn into something that affects people thousands of miles away. One mistake in quarantine procedures can lead to an invasive species such as Asian Carp taking over whole river systems, causing significant effects on the overall food supply. 

How to track all of this and its long term effects on the globe? We need data, and as always, the closer we can get to the source of that data the better. This is exactly why TARTLE is set up the way it is. We provide buyers the ability to connect not just with random information, but with individuals who generate data every day and who can generate more if need be. Want to know how food prices are affected by a big storm? Go ask people how prices are going up in their area. How is health getting affected? Go directly to the hospitals and clinics around the country and find out how many are admitted to the ER and for what. Or ask people if they are getting new prescriptions, or if exercising outside is more difficult since the wildfires started. Data like this is exactly what is necessary to determine the effects of our behaviors on the world and what things we can change to make a difference.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Government Saves the Day!

As most people are well aware by now, there are a number of COVID vaccines out in the wild now, with roughly a million people every day getting a shot from one of them. That’s quite the accomplishment given that a year ago today, many people believed any sort of vaccine was likely impossible, to say nothing of getting one by the end of 2020. Thanks to a lot of hard work and the clearing of administrative roadblocks made possible by Operation Warp Speed, we have not one, not two, but actually four out there getting distributed. 

While the development of so many new vaccines in so short a time is impressive, another daunting task is to actually manage all the data related to the distribution of those vaccines. Which groups should get it first? Who has had it and who still needs it? Who has had one shot and who has had two? What sort of side effects might arise after taking the shot? All of these are important data points to keep track of. The CDC in Atlanta recognized this and set about ensuring that a system was developed that would be capable of managing it all effectively. At least, that’s what they hoped would happen. 

What actually happened is a debacle on par with the launch of HealthCare.gov. The CDC issued a no-bid contract to consulting firm Deloitte to develop the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). $44 million dollars later and what the CDC got was not a stunning accomplishment in the world of software development but something that only those who remember Windows Vista could appreciate. Instead of seamlessly tracking appointments and available supplies and all the rest of it, VAMS randomly drops appointments, thinks you’re literally getting a needle in your arm when you aren’t even in the building, and randomly locks staff members out of the system. I don’t care who you are, that program is anything but a success.

While the CDC and Deloitte acknowledge that the system has a few bugs that need to be worked out, they point to user error as a cause. While that might technically be true in some cases, when your system does such a lousy job that a professional health director can’t figure it out after 24hrs of trying, that a 100 doses of vaccine got wasted because VAMS couldn’t keep track of them, and hordes of volunteers are needed to transfer information from paper to the actual system, the problem is in fact the system. Or to perhaps put it more succinctly, when the name of your super great software system becomes a curse word amongst healthcare staff, the system is definitely the issue. 

It is so bad that many states are in fact reverting back to paper records because it’s more efficient. Others are going with a paid option rather than struggling with the ‘free’ VAMS system, or even using a patchwork of other systems such as Eventbrite – a system used to manage things like concerts – to keep track of appointments.

How on earth did this happen? How could we possibly have gotten here with a digital revolution going on around us? Part of the issue is that this was a no-bid contract. Anytime that happens, alarm bells should be going off. It usually means that there some backs getting scratched money going into accounts that has nothing to do with the actual contract. Another is that Deloitte is actually run by accountants, not software experts or healthcare professionals. They most likely outsourced it to whatever firm had the lowest bid, didn’t test it and then sent it off to the CDC knowing they would never be held accountable. 

Some have pointed to Deloitte being a private enterprise as part of the issue. However, they really aren’t private. Given their obvious ties with the government and the fact they developed this product with no competition whatsoever, Deloitte is more like a quasi-Government agency akin to NASA. It is only a matter of time before a real private company, like TARTLE, which already has an efficient and easy to use system for sharing data worldwide, shows up and presents a solution that is workable and cost effective that will help save lives.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Ransomware!

The rise of the digital age has brought with it a lot of benefits. More efficient operations, better data sharing, faster customer service, next day delivery, and access to information at the drop of a hat. However, it also comes with a dark side or two. One of those dark sides is the advent of ransomware. 

Nearly every week there is news of a significant data breach at a major corporation and many of those breaches involve some kind of ransomware. Ransomware comes in various forms. In broad strokes, it is software installed by blackhat hackers that can be used to disable or disrupt that corporation’s operations unless the hackers are paid to remove that software. There are a lot of ways those disruptions can occur. They can lock down your servers, threaten to steal private data, threaten to release said data, threaten to release a virus into your system, or release a virus and then demand payment to get rid of it. 

No matter what form it takes, ransomware is a menace and one that is growing, it currently is tied to about half of the data breaches in the healthcare industry. Given the intimacy of the data there and the importance of hospitals being able to keep their systems running, this is very concerning.

So, how do they get in? There are lots of ways that a creative and malicious hacker can get into a company’s servers. One of the more common and ironic ways they do this is by looking for backdoors in that company’s VPN. Once they are in, it is fairly easy to take control of an entire organization’s data and threaten to delete or release it. What is particularly galling is that they tend to take the ‘nice guy’ approach. The hacker group will email the target organization and just inform them that they noticed there was this problem and some bad things ‘could’ happen. Unless you pay them to ‘fix’ it of course. ‘Hey, buddy, nice servers full of data you have there. Sure would be a shame if something happened to them.’ So, you can pay them, or take a chance that might allow them to delete or release your data. None of those options is good. Paying them just incentivizes the behavior. Letting them delete the data would be a massive loss (unless you have a backup). And of those options, it could be argued pretty convincingly that the release of data is the worst. After all, in that situation, everyone knows that you got hacked and no one believes they can trust you with their data anymore. You could always get your IT department on the job and fix the issue themselves. However, that often takes a lot of time, time that the hackers will most likely not allow. 

Fortunately, the various VPNs that are available are getting on top of this and frantically plugging all those backdoor security holes. However, you actually need to update your software. If you don’t, you miss all those fresh new security updates and you are leaving yourself open to attack. And honestly, if you are being lazy about updating your VPN or antivirus software, then you really only have yourself to blame if you get attacked. Or if your IT department isn’t staying on top of it, get new IT people. The dangers of leaving yourself exposed are not exactly a secret. If the issue isn’t with them, but with the software company not releasing updates fast enough, get your IT people to find new software. There are a lot of options out there. 

One option that you as an individual can take is to sign up with TARTLE. The data we store is double encrypted – we can’t even get at it. That adds security to your data and puts you back in control. Companies can join us as well and include their data as part of the TARTLE data marketplace. That way you are putting your data further out of reach of bad actors and opening up another revenue stream as well. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

Deep Machine Learning   

Computers have helped drive the medical industry to better and faster diagnosis as well as helping to figure out new treatments for a variety of issues. Until recently, they have primarily relied on programming that uses a linear – or machine – learning model. This type of model is great if you already know the kind of thing that you need to know. Simple things like “does this person have lung cancer or is a brain tumor causing these problems?” But what happens when the situation is more complex? What happens when you don’t already know what you are looking for? What happens when you know there is a problem but don’t have any idea what it could be? How does a machine learning model handle that? In short, it doesn’t. A machine learning model can solve for ‘x’ very well so long it knows if ‘x’ is either apples or oranges. When ‘x’ might not even be fruit, you need a different approach.

That’s why deep learning models have developed. These models try to mimic the way the human brain takes in and processes information. Instead of looking at a set of predetermined variables and solving for one particular answer (like you used to do in Algebra class) the deep learning model takes in all the information at once and looks for correlations and patterns. Think of it this way. You look at a picture of someone and right away your brain takes in all the information. You can see if the person is sweating, the pupils are dilated, hair length, freckles, whiskers, and a ton of other information. If you already have a store of information at your disposal, you might already be able to make certain deductions about that person’s health. A deep learning model does the same thing. Already programmed with a vast amount of medical knowledge concerning symptoms and their causes, a deep learning machine can make a diagnosis before a human would see the problem. This is because the machine can hold more specialized information, recall it faster, and will often have much greater attention to detail than most people. 

A recent study in Nature Communications suggests that deep learning models could be very useful indeed for medical professionals, particularly in the area of brain imaging. This is because the brain is immeasurably complex with more variables than what can be truly accounted for in the machine learning models. These models have been held back though, generally by the fact they take some time to get the results needed. Data may need to be run through the machines a few times to train the program, to give it a chance to develop the best ways to analyze the data and produce good results. So long as the deep model is ‘trained’ in this way then the results are typically better than the older machine learning models. 

Does that mean that linear, machine learning is strictly a thing of the past? Not at all. Those models still do better when it comes to simple tasks with a limited amount of variables. In fact, the two models can even be used in conjunction. A trained deep learning model can be used to establish the necessary variables to enable a machine learning model to take over and provide the needed solutions. 

Where might deep learning take us in the future? In addition to analyzing the brain and being able to make early diagnosis of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases, it could be applied to other things like an annual physical. Imagine you go to the doctor and instead of a lengthy examination (preceded by a long wait) and blood work that might take days to get back, you just walked into a scanner, got a finger pricked and the deep learning model told you your level health and anything wrong with you in a few minutes, complete with recommended treatments? It isn’t that far-fetched.

How can you help make that future a reality just a little bit faster? By signing up with TARTLE and sharing your medical data with universities and hospitals working on these models. That will give them more data to work with which will help them better train those deep learning models, which will one day make your trip to the doctor’s office a lot easier and faster. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

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