Where you live: It impacts your health as much as diet and genes do, but it's not part of your medical records. At TEDMED, Bill Davenhall shows how overlooked government geo-data (from local heart-attack rates to toxic dumpsite info) can mesh with mobile GPS apps to keep doctors in the loop. Call it "geo-medicine."
How does your environment impact your personal health? Geomedicine produces a new type of medical intelligence that leverages national spatial data infrastructures to benefit personal human health and improve the quality of the care medical professionals deliver.
GeoMedicine will probably serve as a catalyst for future human migration from one part of the globe to another in the quest for minimizing personal health risks. And, it may be sooner than you think!
And while using clues about peoples' locations is an important tool in public health, it's now set to make individual health care even more personal.
Thanks to the Internet and the development of software applications that demystify complex processes and data — coupled with the public’s interest in their own personal health — public health agencies across the world will experience increasing numbers of curious and tech savvy health-seeking consumers demanding much more health relevant data delivered creatively over the Internet.
In my opinion, geomedicine brings us to a bit closer to the real fulcrum between patient and physician, tipping the balance toward a more full disclosure of all relevant information, even that data which is not generally seen by either the physicians or the consumer.
For a society moving to smartphones and digital tablets at record-breaking speed, having health data assembled and displayed in apps like this stands a much greater chance of actually doing something positive for people’s health — maybe even mine!
“Place should be a vital sign,” says Ethan Berke, a spatial epidemiologist at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., and a family physician.
Our health depends on where we currently live, as well as on where we have lived in the past and for how long in each place. An individual’s place history is particularly relevant in conditions with long latency between exposures and clinical manifestations, as is the case in many types of cancer and chronic conditions.
Today the U.S. has one of the most mobile populations in the world, and natives and immigrants alike often move to places with more economic opportunity. In the early to mid-20th century there was the northward rural to urban migration along the "Hillbilly Highway,"
Much like a blood test provides useful clues to underlying health problems that doctors can’t always see at the surface, your street address can provide valuable contextual information, medically speaking.
'Historically, an address has not been used as part of clinical information.'
Where someone lives impacts how they live. Track your patients’ place history to determine if environmental and industrial hazards put them at risk for certain types of diseases. You can diagnose the root cause of community health issues and plan steps to mitigate them. Esri maps and spatial analysis can help you get better insights into the health of your patients and your community.