Voting with your health data

Consumer-Driven Healthcare Needs Consumer-Driven Data Sharing

Do you remember when IBM said there would only be a market for 10 computers in the world? Suddenly there were 1,000, then 10M, and now much of the world walks around with a pocket-sized supercomputer.

Consumerization occurs in industries when functionality previously accessible by only the powerful elite becomes available to everyone. A few things tend to follow this trend:

  • Consumer experiences invariably give way to intuitive, beautiful simplicity and,
  • Antiquated technologies are abandoned in favor of more powerful solutions

Collectively, we demand more of our tools and services — and industry monopolies are forced to adapt or are toppled by newer, consumer-friendly alternatives.

Although this process is painfully slow in some industries, no industry can withstand consumerization. Not even healthcare.

The unstoppable tide of consumerization

These days, I’m spending most of my time and energy on Human API because I believe healthcare is on the cusp of consumerization.

The driving forces for this consumerization are already in place:

  • Consumer-friendly legislation
  • Shifting economic incentives with the rise of value-based care and increased financial responsibility on the consumer
  • Ubiquity of consumer health technologies and access to information

These trends are compounding into the perfect storm for an industry that so badly needs it. Some people might say the storm has already taken hold in healthcare, but I’d argue it’s only just breaking ground. We’ll know true consumerization has arrived when we feel agency over our own treatment and wellness plans, when these plans are truly relevant and personalized, and when we interact with them in a way that feels natural to our everyday lives.

Ownership of health data as a catalyst for consumerization

Having the ability to take ownership of one’s own health requires that person be able to control his/her health data. Healthcare consists of a series of workflows or applications: acquiring a second opinion from a doctor, buying insurance, managing a chronic condition, diagnosing a specific disease, etc. These applications need to be able to access and make sense of an individual’s health data to generate meaningful value. Without this information, we inevitably put an upper bound on their potential success.

Enabling consumers to control the flow of their health data democratizes the building of new healthcare experiences, freeing the data for developers to build personalized, responsive, and effective workflows. Once the consumer is able to selectively share their health data with applications of their choosing, they gain the ability to transact with their data for their own benefit. This provides them with the market leverage required to demand better applications, thereby pushing the industry forward. By “voting with our data” — sending our data to the applications that provide us the most value — we’re taking an active role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Creating data liquidity through consumer control

“Voting with your health data” sounds great in theory, but how do we make it a reality? Until now, consumers and the people building healthcare applications have been hamstrung by a lack of data liquidity.

Our mission at Human API is to provide widespread health data liquidity — the ability to frictionlessly get all health data from any source to any destination in real time . Our plan is to create this liquidity across every entity in the healthcare ecosystem and have it all be controlled by the end consumer.

To do this, we built the first real-time, consumer-controlled health data network. While various health data interoperability solutions have been born (and have died) throughout the years, there is no other mechanism that places the consumer in the driver’s seat.

Here’s why a consumer-controlled health data network makes sense:

  • The consumer is the only node that traverses the entire network of care. This means the consumer has a unique ability to acquire (and subsequently share) their health data across the disparate providers, payers, services, devices, and applications.
  • The consumer is also the most motivated node. Although most individual’s behavior indicates that they are not long-term motivated by prevention (because we haven’t built good enough tools yet), the consumer is the most motivated actors in situations of poor health. The consumer is the most likely actor to take action to solve his/her problem when needed.
  • There is now legislation that supports consumer access to the data, where there was none before. The “P” in HIPAA stands for Portability, and this legislation empowers consumers to retrieve their data where they previously could not. Legislation is still evolving and there is much yet to be done, but the trend is unmistakingly clear.

Putting the consumer in control of their health data is really the only way to solve the health data liquidity problem. We believe that empowering the consumer in this way will open up the world of health data for the next generation of consumer-centric healthcare apps and services.

With these changing tides we see an opportunity for all organizations to reduce consumer friction across their products, build continuity and trust with their users, and create the health experiences that consumers deserve.