Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global health database

Imagine President Obama standing up and announcing a partnership with Google to build the most comprehensive anonymous health database the world has ever seen.

Google would be permitted to put ads in a small box off to the right.

Everyone in the world would be encouraged to create an anonymous account (or they could use their existing Google account if they trust Google), and input all of their health information -- i.e. diseases, medications, conditions, symptoms, diet, exposure, activities, cities lived in, etc.

Why would anyone do this?

Individuals could be completely anonymous in their inputs. It could be touted as patriotic, and scientists and doctors would encourage everyone to put in their inputs. The system would offer health recommendations and potential risks based on their inputs. They could see whether they have shots due, or if their yearly colds happen to line up with allergy season. Or if their particular symptoms have a new treatment, e.g. stomach ulcers can be cured with antibiotics now.

Google would love it, they make money any time ads are shown, and they could target the ads to your conditions. They'd get access to a massive database of coincident health conditions and could use that to improve ad targeting to others.

The gov't, hospitals, medical universities, and even regular individuals could go in and do searches and download data, such as "What percent of folks with arthritis also have strokes"? or "In what cities are cold sores most common?"

Reputable organizations could request more information from folks with a given condition, e.g. "Have you ever lived near high voltage power lines?" sent to to all folks who get migraines. Users who wish to help the medical community by answering these kinds of questions would only have to click the "Help with research" link to see/answer them.

No one's name nor address is never entered, or even requested. Fraud would be rare since there'd be no motivation for it, and it would quickly get washed out in the volumes of data. Google could investigate or weed out obviously false info.

I could see something like this changing the world.

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