menu

Geoff McCleary: Quantified Health – It’s Just A Phase, Get Over It. Please

Geoff McCleary: Quantified Health – It’s Just A Phase, Get Over It. Please
technology

A look at the issues with the current data-heavy state of the field of medicine.

Geoff McCleary, Digitas Health
  • 11 march 2014

The near ubiquitous acceptance of smartphones and mobile internet access have ushered in a new wave of connected devices and smart objects that help us compile and track an unprecedented amount of previously unavailable data.

This quantification of self, which used to be the sole domain of fitness fanatics and professional athletes, is now being expanded out and applied to everything from how we drive and interface with our cars, to homes that adapt around us, to our daily interactions with others. But the most exciting application of this approach has to be the quantification of health – from how much time we spend on the couch, to how frequently a symptom flares up, even to how adherent we are with our medications.

Personalized-Health-data

But this new phase of quantified health is just that – it’s just a phase. How many steps a patient takes is a meaningless data point, unless the information means something to the patient. How many pills we take isn’t going to tell us if we are getting better.

Over time, we begin to see correlations between some of the data points and we can see that on the days a user takes their pill, they average 3,000 more steps, but that still doesn’t tell us what is getting better. We can see that when they get a pill reminder every day, that they will refill their prescription twice as much as other users.  As marketers, that information makes us happy, but does it make the patient any healthier? Can’t we both be happy?

We can pretty the data up with shiny infographics and widgets, but unless there is meaningful context to that data it is just a nicely organized set of data points. So, what will make a difference? What will get us out of the dark ages of quantified health and into the enlightened age of Personalized Health? What will need to change to get me the treatment I need because of who I am – on a genetic level?

Personalized Health Is Coming

Personalized-Health-DNA

From birth we begin to amass a rich health history that is uniquely personal to each of us. Is that the key to unlocking the potential of contextual health and wellness for each of us? Can we plug our unique symptomology, test results, diagnosis and outcomes into the pool of quantified health data and make health truly personal and valuable?

Where would we start? If you are like me, you have seen (not including specialists) approximately 15-20 different physicians for various ailments and diagnoses over the years. None of whom got any information from the previous physician or the provider before them. I have probably had at least half as many insurance companies, none of which have shared any data with the next.

So we have to collect historical data in a clear and consistent way that maintains relevance from one encounter to the next.

Next we need to understand our uniqueness. There are any number of companies that will sequence some or all of the chemical code that makes us who we are, telling us if we are at risk for life altering conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, even how fast I will metabolize proton pump inhibitors (PPI) medication when taken. What if I could connect my medical history to that information? What if my physician had the ability to treat the disease I will get in 20 years, not just the one that is bothering me now?

Once we understand our uniqueness, we can begin to understand our sameness. Oddly enough, sameness is an important part of a personalized history. As unique as we are as individuals, somewhere someone else has gone through something similar. Another unique individual halfway across the world has a similar genetic makeup and has survived breast cancer, had a cardiac episode or just had a problem with acid reflux. Knowing that I have a 1.8% risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease doesn’t mean as much to me until I know that the average risk is 1.6% and that I am within an acceptable range and probably don’t have anything to worry about.

Access will drive evolution from quantitative to qualitative.

Personalized-Health-tech

Our history, our future, our uniqueness and our sameness mean nothing if we cannot get this information on-demand, in real- time. This information has to be available when we need it (and when we don’t) on whatever screen is handy, in whatever setting we are in. Our physicians need access to our information and they need it in the context of how others have dealt with the same situation.

This access can only be enabled by a cloud-based, open health profile. As quantified self gave way to quantified health, quantified health must give way to Qualitative Health. This cloud based profile of our health past, present and future will need to be both quantified and qualitative.  Based not only on numbers and raw data, but relevance, context and meaning. Based not on a database or an app, but in the cloud where personal information will accessible by whomever we designate, our sameness open and shareable with all — with all contributing to the meaning of our data, and physicians interacting in an informed, consistent manner across our entire health being, instead of just the 20 minutes a year when they see us.

That is truly health care, and I cannot wait for it to get here.

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.

Images: Mercy Health, World Bank Photo CollectionBerkley Lab, Tricia Wang

technology
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Jennifer Lopez

Science, Space, Technology, Innovation, Social Good

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.