Almost a year ago I started writing about what I call Treating Healthy Patients. In my discussions with people in the healthcare IT industry this topic keeps coming up. In any discussion on the cost of healthcare, the idea of treating “healthy” patients comes to the forefront.
At the core of the treating healthy patient problem is that if a patient feels that they’re healthy, then they don’t see any need to be treated. Turns out that many of us think and feel that we’re healthy when in fact our body has indicators that we are heading in the wrong direction. The real challenge is that we don’t have a personal health dashboard which lets us know that our indicators are headed in the wrong direction.
As most of you know, I’m a website stats addict. I check how my blogs are doing all of the time (and most other bloggers do the same). If we love looking at the health of our blogs so much, why don’t we have a way to look at the health of our body? With this in mind, you can imagine I was intrigued by this quote I found on the WellnessFX website:
WellnessFX is like Google Analytics for your own body. It totally changes the way you think about taking control of your health through measurement and ongoing experimentation with different diet, exercise, and supplements.
-Mike Maples, Floodgate Ventures
That’s exactly what I would love. A Google Analytics (that’s a great website stats program) for my body. Sadly, I’m not able to use WellnessFX to see all the details of how it works. It’s currently only available in California, Oregon, and Washington, and they say they’ll soon be available in Texas, Colorado, and Massachusetts. I’ll have to wait until they make it to Nevada to try, but I love the concept.
It seems that WellnessFX uses a series of blood tests to set the baselines for your health dashboard. I’ll be interested to see how they integrate physicians into their product. While it’s great to have a service that’s monitoring my health, I also want to have a doctor involved in the process as well. They have a physician involved on at least the front end analysis of your health data which is great. However, for this to be really valuable the doctor needs to have some involvement throughout your experience. They need to treat you even if you’re a “healthy” patient.
One thing I do think we have to be careful with in the idea of treating healthy patients is not driving unneeded paranoia about a person’s health. The companies that go after this concept are going to walk a fine line between warning you of things that really matter and causing emotional harm and paranoia for something it finds that really doesn’t matter. One thing patients aren’t very good at is understanding the context of the results. There’s a definite balance there. However, that balance can be achieved if done properly.
I myself look forward to the day when a tab on my browser includes my health stats and the health stats of my family. Imagine things like diabetes that are preventable. If we had a better understanding of our risks of diabetes, I think many of us (certainly not all) would change some of our behaviors. What a great outcome that would be!