Pottery quincunx

Five new year’s resolutions for digital health

  1. If you care about health, stop writing about technology
  2. Do something for the common good in health, for your own benefit, and for everyone else’s
  3. Identify the five healthcare-related buzzwords you use most often. Stop using them. Think differently.
  4. Be a net contributor to the healthcare conversation on the social web, not a net withdrawer. Consider the fact that this could mean publishing less, not more.
  5. Respect yourself if you value the respect of others in the health conversation. What you publish determines how others see you

A future awaits us of extraordinary possibilities for healthcare. Among many other future health hypotheticals, if we live long enough some of us can look forward to:

Personalised medicine that can identify and correct the deficiencies of our own genes.

Passive and active sensor arrays in the lived environment and in our possessions that will offer us unprecedented insights into our own health.

A hospital at home, with printed medicines and utility fogs capable of undertaking surgical procedures.

Self-actuating nanotechnologies that will respond to life-threatening health events, dissolving thrombi, and killing cancer cells.

The sum total of medical knowledge, delivered in a manner appropriate to our health literacy through an AI immeasurably faster and (if computing power alone is considered an indice of intelligence) smarter than we are.

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen next year, nor the year after. We’ve a decade or four to wait.

Distressingly, the immediate future of the health conversations on the social web and elsewhere looks set to continue to be dominated by the self-impressed declarations of the manufacturers of future landfill, and their legion of willing or paid hagiographers.

Will 2015 be the most grindingly tedious year in the history of healthcare?

Perhaps.

There are interesting times ahead for health, but if we view success in terms of improvements in patient outcomes rather than health tech bubble funding rounds and out-of-control hype, this era does not qualify.

Digital health sees a future of infinite possibility: the possibility of its own infinite continuation.

To review the banality of digital health‘s ceaseless pronouncements about itself is to be privy to a perverse and inhuman vision of health and healthcare.

Digital health fetishises the clean lines and smooth designs of the devices and peripherals that are its totems, and has difficulty accommodating the reality of a healthcare characterised by soiled dressings, raw emotions, pain, and death.

Digital health is most comfortable propagating an image of healthcare without blemish, infection, or sepsis.

Digital health’s ideal is healthcare without the patient.

However, none of us need contribute to the propagation of this folly.

Challenge mainstream, money-driven digital health orthodoxies when you encounter them in 2015 as the travesties of the lived experiences of patients that they are.

If you feel you need to manifest your awareness of the evolution of healthcare, seek out and support the DIY digital health underground.

Find something worth sharing; better still make something worth finding.

Next year, make a difference by being different.

Health and happiness to you and yours in 2015.

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