Your Health and Health Data

by douglas reeser on 1.23.11

There's a new video up from the TedMed series that makes the case for more accessible personal health data. Thomas Goetz, the executive editor of Wired Magazine, and author of "The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine" explains how health-related behavior change can be accomplished through making people feel like they can actually take action and make change. Much of this feeling comes from having access to and a greater understanding of our own personal health data.

To further enhance a sense of greater understanding of our own health, Goetz also presents a new proposal being developed that will use a "Drug Facts" chart for pharmaceutical drugs- similar to the "Nutrition Facts" charts found on every package of food in the US. While there might be some potential in the idea, I don't see the "Nutrition Facts" charts making much difference in the US, where obesity rates remain among the highest in the world, and many of the leading health problems remain diet related. Overall, the talk is a bit too problem-oriented for me, without really examining some of the roots of the problems being addressed - are the various poor health outcomes experienced across the US and around the world truly due to a lack of understanding? Perhaps, and it is refreshing to see the call for change when it comes to how we interact with our health data, and ultimately, our own health.

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