The Personal Data Revolution in Healthcare

By Phil Hemmings, Director, Global Industry Marketing, CSC Healthcare and Life Sciences

It’s already happening and the results are even more profound than you can imagine

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A colleague in the United States sent me this link to an article in the New York Times. It seems to me that it’s something that everyone in healthcare IT – and possibly everyone in healthcare – should read. People like me, people who have a job which includes talking about health technology, have been flagging up big data and consumerization in healthcare for a while. While we talk about these trends, Steven Keating is living them.

Take a MIT Media Lab doctoral student with a “slight abnormality” of the brain and a restless intelligence and we can see those trends that observers have been identifying become real. This is a man who has been monitoring his own symptoms, collecting his own data, and taking control of his own wellbeing. In Keating’s case, his personal investigation led to the removal of a cancerous tumor from his brain.

The rise of the informed consumer is one of the trends CSC identifies as a driver of transformational change. And it’s not just something that impacts bright young PhD students with serious conditions. The New York Times article identifies the beneficial effects of an epilepsy community on PatientsLikeMe, which has delivered improvement statistics that any formal public health initiative would be pleased to achieve.

Another of the trends we identify is changing demographics, lifestyles and disease patterns (by the way, there’s no piercing insight in these trends, but nonetheless they’re real and they’re important). Put another away, in the 21st century, healthcare will be as much about managing disease as curing it. So, we should view Steven Keating as a shining example of the modern patient – engaging with his disease, studying the data, and managing his condition.

The third trend we identify is advances in medical science. This plays in Keating’s case as well – his treatment would not have been possible without advances in surgical techniques, and no doubt in medical equipment and devices as well.

Most of us won’t have Steven Keating’s particular technical skills or, thankfully, his condition. All of us though can engage in our own health and wellbeing in an intelligent and effective way.

This new model of healthcare will be firmly based on data and information; data about ourselves, data about populations, and information about dealing with illness and achieving wellbeing. It is clear that delivering this data and information will require transformational change in the way healthcare uses technology, rather than stepwise improvement of what already exists. The benefits though are clearly profound – read the article, this is really happening.

 

Comments

  1. The collection of personal data is starting to revolutionize health care. There are iPhone apps that can regulate and measure your heart rate; if that’s not innovative and effective, I don’t know what is! If we’re giving scientists wholesome data about us, they’ll be more likely to help our health. And let’s face it: who doesn’t want to be healthy?

    Alex Jennings |

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