Health 2.0 Spring Fling
After a week of reflecting upon the Health 2.0 Spring Fling event I attended last weekend in San Diego a couple of things about the state of health in the Web 2.0 world have started to resolve themselves.
Own your own health
I was impressed by the array of companies and individuals in attendance who were incredibly passionate about allowing the patient to own their health. Everywhere you looked, there was a company building the next device, app, or tool that would allow users to better understand themselves, to provide doctors with a more transparent view of the patients health, or to ease the process of getting in and out of the doctors office. Gone (or at least receding) are the days of the doctor on high proscribing regimens and prescribing pharmaceuticals without input from the patient. Two of the most interesting trends to emerge from the conference were the increasing focus on data gathering, especially from a self-service standpoint, and a strong continued push towards cost savings across the board.
SoloHealth is aiming to enhance the monitoring of high blood pressure, obesity, and degradation of vision by providing high-tech self-service stations for placement in pharmacies across the country. These kiosks are engaging and are able to remember patients across visit, providing a level of data gathering that the current generation of pharmacy blood pressure machines miss entirely. What good is data without being able to trend it?
Companies like 23andme and Traitwise are aiming to crowd-source the gathering of genomic and phenotypic data. By reaching out to the vast masses of internet denizens there are correlations to be drawn in both categories, that will undoubtedly surprise us. The question here, as always, is how to drive engagement? Asking for a person’s genomic data is an incredibly delicate request, and collecting the vast amounts of data necessary to draw useful phenotypic relationships requires a broad userbase who is willing to dive deep into the question-answering experience.
West Wireless Health has built a wireless device to augment or replace the expensive ultra-sound machines found in OB/GYN offices. These devices are portable, easily-used even with only moderate training, and are a fraction of the cost of the machines that now exist. With these devices they could revolutionize women’s health, especially in under-developed areas of the world.
The coolest demo of the weekend was brought to us not by a large company, but by a group of developers from MIT who came together at one of the previous hack-a-thons to develop an app which would leverage the Microsoft Kinect to diagnosis compulsive movement disorders in children. Replacing a device that costs thousands of dollars with an $150 video game peripheral. Incredible.
What was particularly interesting in all of these applications and tools, is that there really wasn’t much focus on enabling the user to find more information on their conditions or to reach out to others in similar experiences. These experiences are so core to our mission at HealthCentral that their omission was a little shocking.
It’s important to remember, in the development of any of these tools, that people are more than just the sum of their data points, and that going through and living with serious, chronic illness is an event that takes as much of an emotional toll as it does a physical one. It’s great to provide the user with access to unlimited data, but it’s also our job to guide them to understand it, to know their condition, and to take action in making their lives better.