Health IT

Where Does All that Health Data Go?

“Wearables … A vision into the future.” – CES 2014 All the glitz, glamor and sexiness of health sensors and wearable technology overshadows one very important question: Where does all the data go? For all the information that neat tools such as personal health records, wearable fitness bands and Google Smart Contacts gather, the question of […]

“Wearables … A vision into the future.” – CES 2014

All the glitz, glamor and sexiness of health sensors and wearable technology overshadows one very important question:

Where does all the data go?

For all the information that neat tools such as personal health records, wearable fitness bands and Google Smart Contacts gather, the question of where the data goes is often overlooked.

Additionally, the following questions are typically passed over:

  • Who owns this information; the company or the individual?
  • How secure is my health information?
  • How can sensors and wearable technology combine with other health information sources to give patients a 360-degree view of their own health?

In tackling the question Where does all my health data go, we’ll inherently answer all the questions above.

First Off: Where Does All Your Health Data Go?

Let’s walk through a scenario using a Fitbit smart watch and Microsoft HealthVault, a free personal health record tool that helps patients organize their health information, such as doctor’s notes, x-rays, lab results and more.

Step 1: Fitbit to Track Exercise Activity

The Fitbit Force band tracks stairs climbed, steps walked and calories burned (among other things) every single day.

According to their privacy policy, Fitbit collects and stores the following levels of information on your device:

  • Default Public: Basic information (e.g., profile photo, nickname, steps and distance, etc.) will be available to everyone
  • Default Friends: Information your friends likely already know about you (e.g., real name, “About Me,” age, gender, height, location, etc.) will be available to your friends
  • Default Private: Information likely to be sensitive (e.g., activity data, food, weight, body data, measurements, journal, mood, allergies, sleep statistics, non-profile photos, etc.) will not be available to third parties

In their privacy policy, Fitbit states that third parties will not be given your personal information without your explicit permission.

Step 2: Uploading Data Using Bluetooth

Using the Force’s built-in bluetooth communicator, patients are able to securely transfer their fitness information to a smart phone or computer into a secure online Fitbit portal.

Step 3: Connecting Data Across Platforms

Using a built-in configuration of Microsoft HealthVault, patients can combine their fitness data with health data from doctor appointments to paint a 360-degree view of their health.

Curious if that new exercise plan is leading to lower cholesterol over the past few months? Answering that question is as easy and connecting your exercise health information from Fitbit and cross-referencing your cholesterol levels in Microsoft HealthVault.

Step 4: Changing Behavior by Charting Actionable Goals

While creating a 360-degree view of your health is important, one of the bigger benefits of monitoring your health is to identify trends and make positive adjustments to your life style to improve your health.

A recent THCB article points out the benefits of using health data to chart actionable goals:

The Joint Principles of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) team approach to healthcare delivery using data analytics has been proven to significantly reduce emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions.

Additionally, a good deal of evidence has surfaced that proves this approach results in lower hospitalization rates, better value, lower overall healthcare cost as well as improved patient health, according to the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative.

Step #5: Visualizing Your Health Information Highway

At the end of your data’s journey from sensor to Fitbit to Microsoft HealthVault, your health information has gone a long way.

To visually show you how far it’s gone, we’ve created an image below to describe the health information highway.

 

In Conclusion: Understanding the Health Highway is Key

The new-and-improved health gadgets currently on the market are only the beginning of harnessing individual health data.

It’s imperative that consumers and health systems can combine these disparate data sources to create a clear picture of individual and population-level health trends.

Follow the data and the big advances in medicine will follow.

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