Pervasive Healthcare Technologies Continuum

In my random visit to Twitter today, the master of healthcare Twitter usage, Gregg Masters (@2healthguru), posted a picture that really struck a chord with me. It’s embedded below for those who want to see it. In the picture it shows a number of core functionality and technology that’s needed to get a person’s healthcare data into their hands to become truly empowered patients. You might also call this the Quantified Self Continuum, but I also like the Pervasive Healthcare Technologies Continuum.

Here are the steps it displays: Ubiquitous Sensing -> Wireless Connectivity -> Cloud Computing -> Social Networks -> Empowered Patients

I think the one we’re missing the most right now is ubiquitous sensing. We’ve just started down this path and still have a long way to go to make this a reality. I’m also not sure about social networks being the way that the information is distributed. At least not the social networks they list. I think they might be healthcare specific networks that connect and share the data, but are lifted up and made more prominent using the major social networks.

Ok, here’s the tweet and picture. What are your thoughts on it?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • It’s hard to tell whether the first word should be “Pervasive” or “Invasive”. And the last word could easily be replaced with “Enslaved”.

    I admit to a degree of paranoia regarding the government’s intents re: society in general and health care in particular, but I also admit to sometimes considering that it’s not paranoia at all.

    As government control over every aspect of society becomes more pronounced, healthcare has not been left out. Smoking bans were the original intrusion, food and food additives are the current battleground, and the war on obesity has been declared.

    The health issues in each case are real; the question is whether the government’s desire to avoid paying for various health problems justifies their wresting control from average Americans over their bodies. Of course, if the government would get out of the health care business these concerns would melt away, but does anyone see that happening?

    So anyway, what Mr. Masters refers to as “Empowered Health Care” also appears to be an eerie parallel to “Big Brother Health Care”. It isn’t a stretch to envision the government latching onto all the health data flowing through the ether, nor it is a particularly difficult leap to see the “health police” arriving at your doctor’s office to find out what you’ve done to cause your “out of regulatory compliance” blood pressure. Perhaps maintenance of “politically correct” vital signs will become the next “individual mandate” of our regulated lives.

    Doctors would love to see the average patient become knowledgeable, engaged and empowered. But, unfortunately, there is a perverse relationship with the empowered patients of today. The term “professional patient” refers to those who have allowed their health to become the primary focus of their lives. Most often, they are patients who have a problem which may or may not be severe or even life-threatening, but who have allowed the disease to become an obsession. They are not only willing, but are eager to share every detail of the disease and its effect upon their lives with anyone who can tolerate listening to them, especially their physicians. For this group of patients, the notion of further “empowerment” is as disturbing to physicians as it is exciting to the patients. Unfortunately, they far outnumber the appropriately informed and concerned patients doctors hope to see.

    Frankly, most patients just don’t care very much. They perceive health care as free, or close to it, feel they are entitled to it, and are lacking either the inclination or, rarely, the ability to understand the nuances of their health. Since its free, why bother? And this apathy is exactly what the government will rely on if big brother medicine comes to pass.

    I just can’t get my head around the notion that the Pervasive Healthcare Technologies Continuum is a good idea. The technology is exciting, but the probabilities of its political evolution in modern America is concerning.

  • A Davis,
    I’d have never thought to take it that way. Interesting perspective. I guess I just don’t see the government being able to execute such a well thought out plan.

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