DIY Diagnostics Make Everyone The Doctor [Future Of Health]

DIY Diagnostics Make Everyone The Doctor [Future Of Health]

PSFK Labs looks at technologies that allow laypeople to identify their own health issues and determine what next steps to take.

  • 3 march 2014

How often do you really need to see a doctor? You go through the hassle of making an appointment and taking time off from work, only to have them see you for five minutes and write you a prescription, or worse, confirm what you already knew. When you add the costs associated with in-person visits to that inconvenience, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to take matters into their own hands, but how reliable is this DIY model of care?

Despite the wealth of information available through online medical sources and repositories of collected information from peers, it’s still difficult to whittle down the list of possible ailments and internet hearsay to make sense of sense of a laundry list of symptoms without some expertise. However, an emerging class of consumer-facing health technologies are helping people analyze their own conditions. Combining sensors, data analytics and intuitive interfaces, these diagnostic tools can be used to determine the best treatment options or whether a visit to a doctor is required.  This trend from PSFK Labs’ latest Future of Health report and is called DIY Diagnosis, exploring the simple technologies that are guiding patients in determining what ails them.


In a Bloomberg study that rated countries on health care costs per capita, the US ranked second out of 48 and only 46th in terms of efficiency. This disproportionate balance of cost to effectiveness is hardly a sustainable model.  As MD Revolution Inc. founder and CEO, Samir Damani, tells us, we’ll have to rethink where the outcome is coming from. “We are really moving from a doctor-centric society to a patient-centric society. We are trying to give people control.”

To that end, people are showing a willingness to take a more active role in that medical evaluation process. The Consumer Attitudes Toward Health Care Technology survey noted that 25% of respondents said they used [health information] websites or technology as often as they visit their doctor and about the same number said they used it instead of visiting their doctor.

Although we might not be at a point where individuals can assume full responsibility for their own health, Jared Heyman of CrowdMed imagines a future where they’ll have more options, saying, “In the next 5 to 10 years, patients will say, “Do I want to just see a doctor about this, or do I want to get online and try to self‑diagnose the condition, or do I want to tap into the wisdom of crowds?”

As we transition from doctor-led treatments to patient-centered outcomes, healthcare companies and providers should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What are the next wave of simple diagnostics tools and tests that people will come to expect?
  • What are the best methods for guiding people through medical diagnosis processes?
  • How do these technologies connect with verified information sources to help alleviate concern about conditions?
  • Can you create an all-in-one resource for your customers around common conditions?
  • How can features from consumer technologies be adapted to offer a ‘good enough’ level of diagnosis?
  • How can you connect appropriate healthcare providers with the information patients collect during their self-diagnosis?

With the help of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page.

Contributed by: Wesley Robison


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