Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 492-525; doi:10.3390/ijerph6020492 OPEN ACCESS
International Journal of
Environmental Research and
Emerging Patient-Driven Health Care Models: An Examination
of Health Social Networks, Consumer Personalized Medicine
and Quantified Self-Tracking
Melanie Swan *
Research Associate, MS Futures Group, P.O. Box 61258, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: email@example.com; Tel.: +1-415505-4426; Fax: +1-504-910-3803 Received: 9 January 2009 / Accepted: 2 February 2009 / Published: 5 February 2009
Abstract: A new class of patient-driven health care services is emerging to supplement and extend traditional health care delivery models and empower patient self-care. Patient-driven health care can be characterized as having an increased level of information flow, transparency, customization, collaboration and patient choice and responsibility-taking, as well as quantitative, predictive and preventive aspects. The potential exists to both improve traditional health care systems and expand the concept of health care though new services. This paper examines three categories of novel health services: health social networks, consumer personalized medicine and quantified self-tracking. Keywords: Patient-driven health care; health social networks; personalized medicine; quantified self-tracking; health care delivery; predictive health care; preventive health care; long-tail medicine; Internet; open source.
The life sciences field is advancing and changing in nearly every dimension, both content-wise and structurally. Volumes of new content are coming forth in the form of key research findings, affordable new technologies and simultaneous holistic and reductionist expansions via systems biology approaches and new sub-field branching. Structurally, life sciences are changing in three important
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6
ways: the concept of life sciences, how science in general is conducted and the models by which health and health care are understood and realized.
Conceptually over time, life sciences are transitioning from being an art to a science to an information technology to now, an engineering problem. The ways of science are also changing, both in how it is being conducted and in who is conducting it. The historical notion of science consisted of investigating and enumerating physical phenomena and doing hypothesis-driven trial and error experimentation. An evolving notion of science adds three additional steps to the traditional method to create a virtuous feedback loop: first, mathematical modeling as a means of more actively understanding phenomena and predicting outcomes , second, software simulation for conducting exponentially many experiments, possibly with the freedom to analyze broader emergences outside of the constraints of hypothesis-formation , and third, in some cases, demonstrating mastery of the phenomena by building real lab samples using synthetic biology and other techniques . Who is conducting science is changing as the notion of being in a post-scientific society explains; innovation is occurring in more venues, not just governmental and industrial research labs but increasingly at technology companies, startups, small-team academic labs and by creative entrepreneurs and other individuals .
How health and health care are understood and realized is the third important way that the structure of life sciences is changing. Webster’s dictionary defines health care as the “efforts made to maintain or restore health especially by trained and licensed professionals” (http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/healthcare). Figure 1 takes this as a base and illustrates a new model of health and health care. The left column depicts the expanded definition of health and the continuum of...
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