Data for good - the future of healthcare


A profound shift is coming. The creation of a new data-based healthcare system is the single most important venture for the future of humanity in the near future. It will have a profound impact on the delivery of services worldwide, but more importantly, it will have a profound impact on the way that we think about ourselves.

What is our true value?

Indeed, we still today think of ourselves as individuals, as single and singular units. We do not view ourselves as important cogs of a worldwide equation, but rather as independent thinkers, as islands of data. And we tend to have a profoundly distorted idea on the value of our personal health data. This is easy to verify... To do this, walk in the street, and ask people "how much do you think that your data is worth?". You will generally get prices ranging from a couple of hundreds of dollars to absurdly high ones such as 20000 or 50000.

But in reality, your personal medical data is kind of worthless. I read somewhere in a Harvard study that a person's complete data set is worth about 1,67$. Yes, one dollar and sixty seven cents... The fact is that your data only has value if it is used... Today, we are not really using data; we are collecting it, putting it in silos and regurgitating it through so-called "health management" applications. But we have not yet started really USING the data, as in predictive healthcare systems or in artificial intelligence. And those two things are the key to a better future healthcare system.

But it is difficult to get people to share their medical data, because we are still shaking the ghost of data safety and terrifying people about the future use of their data. There is a semantic problem about data in Europe. We tend to ask people questions such as "Are you afraid that we will take your data and sell it to insurance companies to make you pay more money?", whereas if we ask the question "Would you accept to share your anonymous data with the Heart Foundation to do medical research?" the answer will always be Yes. In fact the patient himself, the generator of the data, generally is always happy to share his data, as long as he understands why he is sharing it.

So how can we convince the world to share its data in an efficient and intelligent way? How can we shift towards a Data for Good system, where donating your medical data is about the equivalent of doing an organ donation?

Data for Good is the key for building better healthcare systems worldwide. In fact, Data for Good is the key for building a universal healthcare system, a system where YOUR data is used for the good of mankind, where YOU will be able to travel the world, with your medical data available anywhere, any place, any time.

So how do we convince people to share their data? What about establishing a system where people give their data, it is then made anonymous, placed in a secure vault, and used for medical research. And what if when you gave your data, you would become a share-holder in the platform where you donate your data? A true co-operative system that pushes the use of data rather than restraining it.

It might be Utopia, an imaginary world, an impossible task, but that is truly what we should be aiming for. But I am tempted to quote John Lennon : “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was The Key to Life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life…

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© 2019, Uwe Diegel