In case you hadn’t heard, All of Us is a national research effort to gather data from one million or more U.S. participants to accelerate research and improve health by taking individuals’ differences in lifestyle, environment, biology and other factors into account. With the richness of data collection out there and the variety of influencers when it comes to our health, this constitutes an immense research effort on the part of HHS. And last month, as part of that effort, HHS awarded $21 Million to health centers in order to support their participation in the All of Us research. That investment will help enroll and retain participants, as well as defraying other program costs.
But what can you learn from a large-scale crowdsourced research program like All of Us?
Well, tons, really. This work builds on a key emerging healthcare trend – personalization: how do factors like environment, diet, lifestyle, genetics create a blend of impacts not just in people like you – but you specifically? In the future, big data will lead to highly relevant insights into how each choice we make, each environment we encounter, each part of our genetic make-up will lead to complex consequences and outputs in us.
The All of Us program knows that as part of this effort, they’re going to have to collect, house, and assimilate large databases of information and use that to answer specific questions. In order to organize that effort they decided to reach out to the crowd to prioritize their questions, as well. The crowd of researchers, doctors, patients and the public could share whatever questions on which they desired answers and vote on the suggestions from others. Top-voted questions concern things like microbial communities and metabolic profiles, obesity, opioid use and tons of other questions – which can now all be sorted and evaluated according to their popularity.
By looking for patterns in the data, researchers may learn more about the factors that affect our health. The program will last for many years and allow us to have in-depth insight into health over time. To learn more about the All of Us research program, check out their IdeaScale community.