Lately there’s been a lot of talk about personalized medicine. There’s a bold idea going around that people should take control of their own healthcare and manage the flood of new data stemming from a whole bunch of new technologies, including, but hardly limited to, personal genomes, biomarkers, wireless sensors, and iPhone ECGs.
…boutique-style healthcare is a lot like organic food, which may taste better and may help a few privileged people feel better about themselves, and may possibly yield a small individual health benefit (though there is absolutely no evidence to show this). However, there is absolutely no chance that organic food can be used to actually feed the vast majority of the 7 billion or so people currently living on this planet.
Similarly, taking control of individual health data will almost certainly allow a few privileged and obsessed people to feel they’re better off than most. It may even improve their health. But, again, more importantly, there is no possibility in the foreseeable future that this self-management of extremely complex personal health data will improve the overall public health of the planet.