We know what improves health–but we’re simply years away from having the tools to achieve it. We know that we can reduce the chronic conditions plaguing the world’s populations by a subtle combination of:
- Closely monitoring the behavior of individuals
- Linking health goals to treatments and behavior changes
- Upgrading the problems in communities that contribute to disease
Such activities call for supple and sophisticated ways to link together disparate types and sources of information–the subject of this article. Doing such linking requires a new way of approaching data that is lacking today in our health care system.
The process of developing the new data approach will have to be incremental (no “Health Data Manhattan Project” for us), will involve thousands of contributors in crowd sourced fashion, and will take unanticipated directions based on the insights of the contributors. I am not laying out a framework in this article, but just touching on the themes that the project will likely explore. I’ll also mention a few of the people working in this area, notably the Yosemite Project. I call this idea Phonemic Path, in reference to the extensive research biologists are carrying on to find genomic paths that explain disease.