Data: Immediacy and Volume

Ed Cotton asks two intriguing questions of brands in general: “Are brands missing a data opportunity?” and “What if brands were to give up their data and share it with their customers?”

Yes. To both.

I’ll be far from the first to point this out, but data has the ability to change the way we deliver healthcare and medicine. While organizations have not been remiss in realizing the power of personal data–it’s not like they have capitalized on the opportunity either.

The consumer-oriented healthcare set has been pushing for more data sharing from delivery organizations for years. There’s a bunch of gobbely-gook involved–but suffice it to say that healthcare data remains somewhat of a competitive advantage. Combined with inflated HIPAA fears and it becomes a world unprepared for sharing (and steeped in tradition) (and habits).

But data is another case where a new solution can be good for everyone involved–a win/win/win/win (the equivalent of a regular “win/win,” adjusted for the numerous stakeholders involved).

No one has gotten this right (on a grand scale), yet. The largest (and best?) data sorter (Google) failed in its effort. Rather miserably.

Two data problems: immediacy and volume. This strikes at a fundamental addition coming to healthcare delivery: health creation.

The health seeker needs immediacy. A lack of it prevents feedback and informed health-creating decisions. To be blunt: health is not created in the physician’s office, it is created when choosing between an apple and a piece of cake. Or when making the decision to exercise vs. sitting on the couch. Jen McCabe termed them microchoices (I believe). Your health is the summation of your microchoices. Slow feedback inhibits microchoice making.

The healthcare provider needs volume. The data from an annual physician check-up guides a physician’s indications for the coming year. More frequent blood pressure check-ups may provide additional data points. But even the patients who we consider frequent users of medical services don’t supply all that much data in a world of constant connection. Without voluminous data (read: constant monitoring) it’s difficult for anyone to find trends or patterns. Trends and patterns inform provider decision making which, in turn, informs health seeker decisions.

This is what makes the mobile movement exciting. Mobile is the current bet to provide the necessary data collection/monitoring/processing/feedback systems necessary to inform decision making.

It will require decisions on two fronts so we can do things like this on a micro scale:

  • Individuals: are you willing to allow software to constantly monitor your activities?
  • Organizations: are you willing to share the personal data (with said individual) collected to improve health?

We’ll see.

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