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Health Attitude Front CoverIn Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare, I wrote about how people’s attitudes about healthcare are shifting and they are accepting more responsibility for their health. People also are collecting data related to their health. A study about migraine headaches published in Neurology more than a dozen years ago established the principle that keeping notes on one’s health is a good tool for improving it. Tracking one’s health today is becoming a part of our daily lives.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project performs surveys to study the evolution of the Internet, how Americans use the Internet, and how their online activities affect their lives. In a January 2013 report, “Tracking for Health”, Pew Research said 69% of adults keep track of at least one health indicator. The survey of 3,014 adults indicated 60% tracked weight, diet, or exercise. Thirty-three percent tracked blood pressure, sleep patterns, headaches, or other healthcare indicators. Twelve percent tracked a health indicator for a loved one.

Steve Lohr at the New York Times reported how one patient took tracking to the next level. A 26-year-old doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. Lohr said the student, “Pushed and prodded to get his medical information, collecting an estimated 70 gigabytes of his own patient data.” Lohr said that the student pushed doctors to conduct an MRI and the result was Boston surgeons removed a “cancerous tumor the size of a tennis ball from his brain”. Lohr concluded from his research there is evidence “letting patients see their medical files helps them take better care of themselves, but the medical establishment still resists sharing the data”. See the full story, The Healing Power of Your Own Medical Records. Also, see Steve Lohr’s newest book, Data-Ism.