May 7, 2008

Participatory Medicine

My speech at a conference on Consumer Connectivity & Web Empowerment gave me the opportunity to quote this excellent Clay Shirky post:

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.

As we reach saturation point in internet and cell-phone adoption and basic activities of daily life port online, it seems that more and more people are asking why they can’t email their doctors, use mobile health gadgets, and be their own best advocates. To paraphrase, health care that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Health care reform is too big for most people to grasp, but participatory medicine is not.