Closing the loop: empowering patients through active self-tracking

Mette Dyhrberg


Increasingly, the challenges for health care in the 21st century are health concerns that escape the identification of single causes known from the big epidemics of the past.

Modern day conditions come from interplay over time of e.g. behavior, mental states, lifestyle, social context, environment, genetic predisposition with causes and effects often removed in time and location. To paraphrase Tolstoy: “All healthy people are alike; each unhealthy person is unhealthy in each their own way.” Unfortunately, current health care practice lacks the incentives, resources, methods, and tools for dealing effectively with these kinds of complex, individual conditions.

Today medicine and health care is about patchwork. It’s about understanding the many different factors that go into health problems. Active self-tracking creates a whole new window into the lives of people with chronic and confounding conditions. They might have an overall diagnosis, often several. However, the specifics of how it plays out in their lives are very different from person to person. At this level of data we have seen that a lupus patient might have more in common with a heart patient than with other lupus patients.

This new kind of data can be used for arriving at new insights about the individuals’ condition. However, without paying attention to the situation no real and sustainable improvement can be made. Active self-tracking enables people to focus their attention on factors and practices that go into producing their condition and help rid them of detrimental behaviors.

Most of people’s lives happen between doctor’s visits. Filling in the gaps by using pay-attention technology fosters accountability and empowers patients to be active participants in their own care.
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