Personal Health is going to replace Mass Market Medicine.
One of the great trends of our time is how personalization is trumping the mass market. Albums go to songs. CD’s to downloads. Downloads to streaming. 32 kids in a class. How many are in tune with the teacher? Maybe 2 or 3. The rest either lag or get bored. Now more and more kids go online to sites like Khan Academy where they can learn at their own pace and learn what they don’t know. Health Care is going the same way. Think of what this means.
All medication is like an album or a class at school. But all people are different. What does your doctor know about you as well? Maybe she sees you for 10 minutes at a time. She uses paper files. She cannot look at your data at all except from her paper file. What tests you take are yearly at best. She knows nothing about your ancestry. You know nothing about it either but your ancestry is what drives so many of the differences that we have in our health. She knows nothing about your social life. She knows only what you tell her about your daily life. She cannot track you week by week, so she will only see when you are really sick when you are so sick that it is obvious. She cannot keep you well because she cannot know enough to care for you as a person.
In truth your doctor is guessing most of the time. She can do no better for she hasn’t the data. She cannot see a gradient of small changes that will indicate early that there is the start of a problem. So you go to her when you are ill. Then the treatments are the same. Medicine is a broad spectrum and mass market deal today. What is YOUR real dose? Antibiotics kill ALL your bacteria. Not a good thing at all. (See Gut Health). Breast Cancer Chemo kills all your fast growing cells. Not a good thing for your immune system or your joints.
All this is changing. Personal health will be a massive change for the better. Here is an article on Larry Smarr who is an early adopter of this approach. He tracks all his vitals all the time. At the moment this is a costly and challenging process. But Larry is at the front end of the trend.
What will make this happen is of course the web and neat tools. Already there are measurement tools that use wireless to hook up to your iPhone and measure some of your stats. Here is a link to Fitbit that shows us the way. Here is how your doctor will see your data soon.
What this will mean soon is that each of us will be able to have the kind of data that will enable us to see small indicative changes EARLY. So as we move towards say Type 2 Diabetes, we can make the right corrections. This approach will also show what works and what doesn’t. WE will know soon what diet works and what doesn’t for the data will support it. Here is how this is working now.
Science will change as a result. At the moment all health science is done in the context of finding a treatment that can be patented and sold. Anything that does not fit this, is not funded. Anything that does not show the new pill in a good light is suppressed. Science has been hi jacked. But As we move more to Personal health, and so more and more real data is generated, we will truly see what works and what doesn’t. In particular we will see what works that does not cost much.
I look to the music model for guidance. Not only will we get what we want when and how we want it, but communities will spring up that focus on helping each other get healthy and cope with this or that.