|The Health Record Review
by Jeff Rowe, Editor
Posted on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - 12:18 pm
This feels like a line straight out of Brave New World.
“One of the many miracles that the smartphone has delivered is an entirely new kind of patient.”
Cool. No longer responsible for what once might have been called “moral agency”, individuals can now allow themselves to be “delivered” by technological developments.
OK, we’re going a bit extreme on what is just one line. After all, we’d have little objection had the writer, an executive at Kaiser Permanente, used “enabled” instead of “delivered.”
That said, though, in among the interesting questions related to how mobile health technology is giving rise to new questions concerning, among other things, data access and security, there are some assumptions which seem a bit sweeping, to say the least.
For one thing, the writer has created a new category of, well, human being: The Empowered Patient. To our ears, this smacks a little of the collectivist terminology that marked much of the early 20th century in certain parts of the world, and it may be we’re reacting that way because of the emphasis on defining what that new human being looks like.
“The Empowered Patient is an active manager of his or her health. Once, the Empowered Patient connected with their doctor and managed their health online. Now, with a smartphone in hand, they use mobile apps to connect anytime, anywhere. But these activities seem almost traditional compared with what is to come.”
Can we do a headcount on these Empowered Patients, please? Label aside, this stakeholder is not alone in foreseeing a future in which, apparently, the primary daily activity for most of us will be updating our vital signs. But how realistic is that? More importantly, what kind of society will we be if concern for health in a general sense becomes an obsession on a widespread individual level?
“As we look to the future,” he says near the end, “the definition of ‘health’ information becomes much broader. It encompasses our physiological health, the genetics that we inherit, the environment we live in, and the social circles that we interact with. The perfect system needs to capture markers from each of these, correlate them, mine meaningful information and then share that data with the patient in a consumable form.”
Read the piece and then help us with this question: What are the real-world implications of such an expansive definition of “health information?”
Photo courtesy of Vectorportal via Creative Commons