30,000 Foot (Cloud) Thoughts

Do you find it hard to think at 30,000 feet if you are not on an airplane? “Think broadly and ambitiously and leave your pet projects at the door.” That was our charge as invited guests of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week for their visioning process for the future of healthcare in America.

A Vision of Health

The think tank session that I led during the meeting responded beautifully. In an effort to inform the government’s vision of healthcare in the next decade, we dreamed of developing “natural biomarkers” of health. In a surge of group think, we first defined these as common, observable and characteristic biological indicators of health states such as the menstrual cycle, the semen analysis or trends in bodyweight.
Similar to the warning lights on the car dashboard, we then postulated that natural biomarkers could be used to accurately predict future health states. Acting on changes to these common, easily observable and natural indicators could open up unimaginable opportunities for preventative health and early disease detection down the line. And not only in America, but on a global scale. I think the Feds liked this one.

Your Health Care Diary

And my group of thinkers flew even higher. An even better proposal was to create a “Personal Health Diary” for each citizen on an NIH-served, on-line communication platform. Similar to how Facebook connects friends, this web-based platform would connect the public and the government to improve healthcare. How? It would:

  • Encourage citizens to notify and update the NIH of their personal health status over time. (Tweet to NIH: “Dr said I wz cured of cancer today”).
  • Serve as a line of communication for the government to notify individuals about public health issues before they happen (Tweet from NIH: “Flu in yr zp code nxt wk”).
  • Provide a rich database of longitudinal health data on the population for unprecedented discovery in medical research.

With this proposal, we flew so high, we made it to the moon. Technology conceived in the clouds. And what kept us in the air after the meeting ended was the idea that by connecting the government directly to citizens, each and every one of us could make a difference and improve healthcare in America. Easily the healthiest social network you will ever join.