As more people use smartphones, laptops and wearable computers to track their daily wellness, the resulting deluge of personal health data threatens to overwhelm doctors. The surge of data driven by thequantified self trend has put more detailed health records on many people’s mobile phones than what appears on a doctor’s chart, according to a University of Washington researcher.
“One doctor told us, ‘I know how to manage three blood pressure readings taken in my clinic, but I don’t know how to manage 10,000 readings taken at a person’s home,” said Gina Neff, an associate professor who runs the Project on Communication Technology and Organizational Practices at UW.
Not only is there more healthcare data, but groups view it in fundamentally different ways. Doctors value data that can help them make clinical decisions while patients tend to think of data as narrative. Then there are healthcare researchers that seek variants across groups rather than focusing on individuals. According to Neff, the result is a big disconnect between the three groups.
“These different kinds of expectations mean that people act and do things with data, make decisions about data that really don’t fit with all the other folks who they need to be connecting with around that data,” she said.
Physicians and health care researchers will struggle to use healthcare data until there’s a protocol or system to exchange the information, according to Neff. She believes that in the near term an understanding of the real and perceived value of patient-generated data could lead to new communication channels between doctor, patient and health researchers.
“My doctor may not even want the data from my mobile phone that tells me about my health, but I can use that data to start a conversation with my doctor and that may be one of the most important ways we create social interoperability around these kinds of data.”