Personal Health and The Collective Data

Remember when sharing was a chore? Now that we live in a world where owning a computer, mobile phone, or health device allows us to share thoughts, data, and media at the click of a button, sharing has become fun. Why? It allows us to further ourselves while benefiting others. This is the philosophy behind personal health interfaces and their emerging role providing data informed insights on large populations. Personal health devices, which typically track metrics, health data, and individuals’ physical changes, have the potential to create networks of like-minded users and facilitate open forums where people can connect and collaborate for not only a healthier individual but a stronger community. Yet social and federal barriers continue to limit the utilization of personal health data for medical research and population health insight. At Health 2.0 WinterTech we examine the power of personal health data and their role in changing the larger landscape.

A significant portion of data from consumer friendly wearable devices and smartphone apps is voluntarily shared information and metrics, and typically exists in a non-traditional domain, while conventional health and medical research is continually reliant on more formally collected information from clinical trials or surveys. Providing those in health research with information gathered from self reporting individuals would result in greater variety of data with an increasing usefulness to patients and providers. While individuals seem receptive to the use of their data to help others, concerns exist surrounding information privacy, access, and user consent. Devices, apps, and other platforms must remain steadfast in their commitment to informed user consent of data release and rigorous in their efforts to maintain users’ anonymity.

For those programs that can successfully share data, the user benefits are enormous. Health 2.0 WinterTech will showcase a variety of startups and companies who are well versed in responsibly and effectively utilizing user data to create both a user experience and a beneficial network. MyFitnessPal providers users with an app to log their daily intake, exercise, and weight. Users can also connect and ask and answer questions. Ginger.io provides services for both patients and providers looking for specialized care and attention. Pivotal Living offers a band that tracks steps, exercise, and sleep. The accompanying app exists as a place to view progress and data and to either share or restrict information from the requests of others.

Personal health data is still yours. However the emergence of secure and innovative programs and platforms ensures that data sharing is easy, safe, and rewarding.

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