Quantified World Health

Quantified World Health

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While enjoying the inspiring talks at the Exponential Medicine Conference in San Diego hosted by Singularity University, we took a shot at the Headline from the Future contest. The purpose was pretty clear: use some exponential thinking to paint a picture of how healthcare could look like in the future.

We fully believe in taking preventative measures anticipating a world — and marketplace — where diseases are minimized or avoided entirely. We need to make the switch from reactive intervention to personalized proactive risk management. To be able to do that we need to literally take the pulse of our health before health turns into disease. In other words, we need to have real-time data and not snapshots of our health which we now typically take when our health is endangered.

This belief led us to the following Headline of the Future:

 Prediction – Real-time World Health Index dashboard hits new milestone: now based on real-time physiological data of 1 Billion humans.

This headline is taken from a future where we have a real-time view on our health and through that as well on the health of the world population. Imagine how powerful it would be to have a real-time World Health Index!

Currently the World Health Statistics are published annually based on publications and databases produced and maintained by WHO technical programmes and regional offices.

The indicators used are included on the basis of their relevance to global public health, on data availability and quality, and on the reliability and comparability of the resulting estimates. Taken together, these indicators provide a comprehensive summary of the current status of national health and health systems in nine areas including life expectancy and mortality, cause-specific mortality and morbidity, selected infectious diseases, risk factors and others.

This is where we are today. Let’s fast forward to how it could look like in the future…

Fast Forward to 2045

The accelerating pace of change is all around us. It’s one of the driving forces behind Technological Singularity, which is predicted to happen in 2045 according to Ray Kurzweil. Whether in 2045 we will actually have the intelligence explosion or not, we believe that our headline of future will definitely appear in the news by then.

Sensing Our Health

By 2045, we will not discuss anymore whether wearables work or not. Already today this field is becoming more and more diverse (think nanobotselectronic tattoosinsidables, hearables, ringables, …) and will lead up to a point where no one will notice the sensors on or in our bodies tracking our health. They will simply be there and won’t require any extra effort from humans as they do today.

The amount and types of physiological data will go far beyond what we can measure today with a bunch of different devices.

Security and privacy are key for storing health data and that will not be any different in 2045. You will be able to share your health data with “trusted health guardians” and will have the choice to be an anonymous data donor.

World Health Index

Once the real-time de-identified data is available for the masses, a real-time World Health Index dashboard is just around the corner. This will give us much more than what we know through the World Health Statistics today. It will not only give a country ranking but will give rise to a plethora of valuable insights.

A few examples:

  • See how healthy your city is and find out the correlation to socio-economic factors.
  • Compare your own health to the health of similar people world-wide or in your country.
  • Find out where on earth people have the highest stress level.
  • See how the actions of the local government are actually having an impact on the population’s health.
  • Take faster local preventative measures based on health or disease patterns occurring world-wide.
  • Have cities competing for the “Healthiest City Contest”.
  • Find out which habits worldwide make people live longer.

Science Fiction?

Whether this will happen in before or after 2045 is hard to say but it’s clear that we are evolving towards new unseen possibilities and that it is simply a matter of time.

The bigger challenge is not a technological one however.

The bigger challenge is how to make sure this promising technological future can really make people healthier and improve the quality of life all around the world.

This includes democratizing healthcare and coming up with business models that support prevention, rather then the reactive sick care which we know today. Moving away from spending all our effort on this reactive stance towards investing in applying the technology to ultimately prevent sick care at all.

According to Ray Kurzweil we’re not far away from immortality. If we ever (want to) get there it’s clear that prevention will play a key role. And in order to prevent, we must have a real-time view on our health and even the world’s health.