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User Generated Health Care

I have an idea that would help improve the health care system.  This idea would dramatically speed the process of diagnosis, reduce unnecessary testing, more quickly identify effective courses of treatment and radically reduce the costs associated with the entirety of it all.   I call it User Generated Health Care.  The idea is simple as works as follows:

  • You visit the doctor as the result of an unknown problem with your health, or the health of a family member.
  • The doctor asks you an initial set of questions allowing for a preliminary diagnosis.
  • Based on your answers, the doctor loads a specific set of questions onto a mobile device,  which you take home. (Could be secure web site, or other technology tool.  This is the easiest problem to solve.  Could even be as basis as refurbished cell phones and sms)
  • The mobile device prompts you to answer a few short behavioral questions, documenting diet, medication, mood, sleep, and overall wellness at specific intervals or times of day.  These questions are numerical in nature so that they can be mapped relative to other pieces of data.
  • The device prompts you weekly to answer a more extensive questionnaire – explaining your overall impression of how a specific course of treatment is working, documenting symptoms and side-effects and ranking your overall state of health.  Again these pieces of data are set up in such a way so that value can be attached to them.
  • You return to the doctor, who has already analyzed the aggregated data you have provided.  Because this data is digital, data analysts could examine the data for statistical correlations that would yield actionable information for doctors and medical professionals to present to you.
  • You talk to the doctor about the next 6 weeks and what you will do, instead of the last 6 weeks and your vague recollection of what you did.
  • Your conversation includes charts, graphs, and statistics about the information you provided.
  • You are given another course of treatment (or kept on the same) based on the careful analysis of factual data.

Doctors repeatedly say that patients are one of the most valueable sources of information.  Yet the gathering of information from patients is typically restricted to the 15 or so minutes you get to discuss your situation.  If you or they are tired, having a bad day, distracted, hungry, having a good day, or are in essence “human,” the gathering of this data is highly flawed at best. The entirety of the conversation is going to be shaped by the feelings of the doctor and patient in that moment – which may be very different from general reality.

This would provide a steady stream of measurable data.  This data could be kept private very easily.  This data could be combined with video testimonials capured on demand.  This data could be combined with the opinions of others (with their consent of course) as to observable changes.  This data could be aggregated across demographic, geographic, and sociographic groups to look for overall trends – helping to yield further insights.  This data could be used ot alert us of new diseases, new medical breakthroughs, and new techniques that yield tangible results.   All it takes is a few minutes to answer a few questions that would explain “how are you doing?”

I know the idea is not perfect.  I am not certain that it is not in use somewhere.  I can say that I have never witnessed it for any of my friends or family members, and that I would welcome the opportunity to help create and participate in such a system.  If this idea is already out there, then consider this my vote of support.  If not, then consider this a call to help me fix something that is broken.   Either way, I am good with the outcome being better information for the hard working medical professionals who care so much and work so hard to keep us all alive and healthy, and ultimately better care for those who need it.

For the time being, if you like this idea, you can vote for it on If it wins, $25,000 will be donated to bringing it to life.  I will donate that money to a health care organization with the express purpose of piloting it.  You can vote for it daily while the contest is active.  I doubt it will win, and really don’t care about the money, but mention it none the less.  More importantly, I hope this sparks an idea – perhaps one very different from this one – that helps.

Once the contest has elapsed, you can help by discussing this idea, improving this idea, and making this idea – or some morphed for of it – a reality.