Health Data – It’s a “Thing!”

This year’s Datapalooza conference, June 1-3, in Washington, D.C. takes place as health data edges close to becoming “a thing” in the cultural landscape.  Consumers may not know it yet, but all that fitbiting, medical social networking, and test result accessing through patient portals could soon swell into a full-fledged consumer movement.    

You can almost hear it now:  “Hey man, did you upload your stats after your knee surgery—you know, how much you’re walking, your pain levels, and all that?”   

Or, to a newly diagnosed cancer patient:  “Be sure to track your treatment experience online.  It’s kind of cool to do and helps researchers figure out what works and doesn’t.”   

Or:  “Check this app out—you can enroll in a clinical trial in, like, 5 minutes.”   

This is, of course, what many health data heads have forecast for years.  It’s also now crystal clear that the use of big data to improve health care is no longer a research backwater.  To be sure, there’s hype around the potential to dramatically alter physician and consumer behavior via big data analytics.  We are still dealing with human beings, folks.  As well, concern about privacy continues to vex health data entrepreneurs, researchers, and consumers. 

But the excitement and promise is still palpable, as evident in postings on this site almost daily. 

Speaking of which, I and several other THCB contributors will be reporting from Datapalooza this week.  Check back in.   

Colleagues at Consumer Reports and AcademyHealth and I have also produced a 16-page guide to health data for consumers, complete with advice on how to participate and protect your medical information.   

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