Future Of Health: Picturing Our Health

Future Of Health: Picturing Our Health

The development of highly visual and often interactive formats are providing experts and amateurs alike with methods for investigating health on any scale, allowing for deeper analysis and greater insight.

Kyle Studstill
  • 2 august 2010

Picturing Our Health Banner

This post is part of a PSFK Consulting project aimed at providing insight into the Future of Health. Picturing Our Health is one trend of fifteen that appears in our exploration of  how technology and access to information play a vital role in the ways that people will understand, manage and receive care whether that’s at home, in hospitals and clinics or in doctor’s offices.


As more data is captured about individuals and communities, better tools are needed to make this often complex information more meaningful and easier to understand. The development of highly visual and often interactive formats are providing experts and amateurs alike with methods for investigating health on any scale, allowing for deeper analysis and greater insight.


  • Understand Large Sets of Data Faster – Experts can get a better understanding of overall health of an individual or region in less time than was previously possible.
  • Overcome Language Barriers – Citizens with little or no formal education can come to a better understanding of their own health through the use of imagery and visualization, enabling them to be proactive in their healthcare decisions.
  • Shared Insights – Crowdsourcing data analysis can allow multiple groups of people (universities, medical institutions, etc.) to react to findings or trends.
  • Better Indicators – Understanding history and past actions allows for the optimization of future behavior and healthcare practices.

Supporting Examples for Picturing Our Health

Picturing Our Health 01

Visualizing Geographic Health
GE’s Healthymagination project is an effort to help users understand complex data sets. One aspect of the project is an interactive map that lets users navigate health issues in the US on national, state, and county levels. The map can be filtered to view categories related to physical and mental health, socio-economic status and even the physical environment. this give researchers the ability to see a high-level view of a country, then zoom down in to examine individual problem areas and the variables that affect them.

Picturing Our Health 02

DIY Platform For Visualizing Personal Statistics
Daytum is a mobile and web-based platform that provides intuitive tools for collecting and communicating data through a series of simple visualizations. The site features a dashboard where users can easily add, display, distribute and archive relevant information. It creates a larger picture of personal statics that can be tracked over time to provide deeper insights into behaviors and other metrics.

Picturing Our Health 03

Mapping Outbreaks
Geographical visualizations of outbreaks and health incidents allow users to gain a broader understanding of occurrences across regions. Services like Google Flutrends aggregate data from search terms, while services like HealthMap filter news reports across media outlets. More localized solutions such as Ushahidi populate data points through user submitted SMS reports. Insights generated from the data can be used towards prevention efforts and allocating resources.

Picturing Our Health 04

Track And Share Glucose Levels
The Bant app for the iphone enables users to visually track their blood glucose levels throughout the day. After recording glucose levels at points throughout the day, users are then able to view their levels as a trend graph of daily, weekly and monthly views, sharing them with others as needed.

Picturing Our Health 05

Application Helps Users See How Well They’re Sleeping
Sleep Cycle is a mobile application for the iPhone that helps monitor and visualize a user’s sleep patterns during the course of the night. Through monitoring factors such as movement, snoring levels and other ambient data, the applications provides visualizations in the forms of graphs that provide visual feedback. This gives user’s an understanding of their sleep patterns that helps them make changes to their sleeping habits.

Picturing Our Health 06

Data Visualization Tools For The Public
Created under IBM’s Collaborative User experience lab, Many Eyes is a set of web browser tools that allow users to generate interactive visualizations of data sets. Users can submit their own data and decide on the best way to visualize their output. Visualization types include geographic maps, word clouds and block histograms. The purpose of the project is to enable the general public to focus efforts on gathering insights from data rather than generating and programming the visualizations.

About PSFK’s Future Of Health Report


PSFK’s Future of Health Report details 15 trends that will impact health and wellness around the world. Simple advances such as off-the-grid energy and the introduction of gaming into healthcare service offerings sit alongside more future-forward developments such as bio-medical printing. The report includes concepts for UNICEF based on the trends provided by the world’s leading advertising and design agencies. It is our hope that this report will inspire your thinking and lead to services, applications and technologies which will allow for more available, quality healthcare.

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