Friday, December 9, 2011

Can Software help Health care?


Apps, apps and more apps. Software is everything and everything runs on software.


Almost every industry in the U.S. has been disrupted by software. The health care field is not one of them.

Easily accessible consumer information makes everyone a little bit doctor. Emerging portable diagnostic devices will strengthen the transition. Are we up to it?

Not yet.

A large majority of people want to own their health information. Many want to store it online and have better control over it. Yet, most people don't want any extra work associated with updating and maintaining it. As public health record (PHR) expert Jim Tate said:
My 'dream PHR' continues to evolve. What I want now is a elegant interface which gives me a real time dynamic look into my record located somewhere in the stratosphere. I don’t want to have to do anything. Please don’t ask me to input anything or make more than 2 or 3 decisions. Make it simple, intuitive, powerful, and available on the internet and I will use it. Maybe."
Yes, we are inherently lazy, always trying to find shortcuts and reduce the amount of work to get a task done. Why spend time creating and maintaining our own records when a doctor can do it for us? Or even better, why not just live and enjoy life before we get sick?

Problem is, most of us at various stages throughout life suffer from subtle conditions like food sensitivities or allergies that doctors can't easily diagnose. They're relatively minor in severity, but if managed properly our lives would be a lot better off. So maybe all we need is a doctor who's just a mobile app away, always ready to answer our questions for free.

But will these legions of online doctors have enough insight into our everyday lives to know what we eat, what we breath, and what it is we're not saying to form an expert opinion?

Not likely. Even if we could wear mobile devices - always on, always connected, counting our steps, cataloging our night sweats, and equipped with miniature cameras to photograph what we eat - would the doctors be able to process all that information to form a useful diagnosis?

Aurametrix is an advanced analysis tool that correlates our symptoms, reactions and feelings based on what we enter into the system about our diet, exercise and conditions. Results from early usage of the tool show that even occasional sparse information - entered on days we feel better or worse than average - if properly evaluated can provide a snapshot of our health with sufficient insight to connect the dots to better health.  It's a form of collective intelligence that's already providing interesting discoveries without the need for us to know all the details. For example, it already knows what our foods consist of, how our daily activities or feelings align with past events, and that there are commonalities among many different things.

The future is already here but are we ready for the future?

REFERENCES

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Kim J, Bates DW. Analysis of the definition and utility of personal health records using q methodology. J Med Internet Res. 2011 Nov 29;13(4):e106.

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Benito PJ, Neiva C, González-Quijano PS, Cupeiro R, Morencos E, Peinado AB. Validation of the SenseWear armband in circuit resistance training with different loads. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Dec 6.

Yoshiaki Sugawara,Chie Sugimoto, Sachiko Minabe, Yoshie Iura, Mai Okazaki, Natuki Nakagawa, Miwa Seto, Saki Maruyama, Miki Hirano and Ichiro Kitayama. Use of Human Senses as Sensors. Sensors. 2009, 9(5), 3184-3204; doi:10.3390/s90503184