To your health (data)—may it someday be integrated!


You’ve got a family history of hypertension, so your doctor has routinely ordered a series of tests to monitor you.  She also has instructed you to measure you blood pressure daily, watch what you eat, and get more exercise.  You’ve also got to keep track of your medications and your health policy claims.  All of this adds up to a lot of health-related information, which you (and/or your doctor) might want to be to access, anytime, any place, and have it presented in a meaningful and relevant way.  You need “Healthtrax,” the mobile application depicted in this Artifact from the Future.

This Artifact ties to one of our forecasts (“Information Ecologies Converge”) on our recently released HC2020 Signals & Forecasts Map, which highlights our research on the future of health and health care over the next ten years. We are moving toward a time when our personal and clinical health data streams will be merged and contextually filtered, and available online and on our mobile devices.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are beginning to be designed to be interoperable among different systems, hospitals, doctors, and other providers.  But these records are only one aspect of our “personal health ecology,” a concept that also incorporates other elements of our health data, such as our diet, fitness, and self-tracked biometric levels.  Eventually, many, if not all, of these data streams will be seamlessly combined to provide a comprehensive digital picture of our personal health ecologies.

Today, some of the pieces are starting to fit together, but the picture is still very fragmented.  Continua Health Alliance is a non-profit, open industry coalition of health care and technology companies “dedicated to establishing a system of interoperable personal health solutions.”

It has certified a line of home health tracking devices—a scale, blood pressure cuff, and activity monitor—that can wirelessly upload your data to your computer, and then to an online platform called ActiHealth.  But the trail ends there, with no further connectivity or mobile phone access available…. yet. The wireless Withings wifi scale presents a more promising example of being able to track, integrate, and access one’s health data.

It uploads your weigh-ins to its own website and graphs your progress, information you can access with an iPhone app. It also updates in real-time your Google Health profile, and lists among its other partners Google rival Microsoft’s Health Vault, as well as several fitness websites, including DailyBurn and RunKeeper, both of which also have smartphone applications.

Google Health may be one of the best examples we’ve seen so far of a platform that allows you to store health data from a variety of sources—including EHRs—in one place.  EHRs are a key element in the convergence of personal health ecologies; Google Health’s partners in this still limited endeavor include hospitals, insurers, and pharmacies.  And according to at least one report, accessing all of this data is possible using an app called Health Cloud.

These are all signs that sometime in the coming decade, a mobile offering like Healthtrax will provide access to our integrated personal health ecologies—including data from our health monitoring tools and our health records—when and where we need the information.

Vivian Disler is the Research Manager for the Health Horizons Program. You can read more here.

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