This guest post by Dr. Jessie Gruman was originally published on the Center for Advancing Health’s Prepared Patient blog in February. CFAH was founded by Jessie, who is the author of AfterShock, a book that helps patients navigate their way through the health care system following a serious or life-threatening diagnosis.
As a patient, writer and respected advocate, she sends this open letter to the techmeisters of Silicon Valley.
I am clueless about many things. As in the definition: “Lacking understanding or knowledge.” As in the sentence: “I have no clue!” As in the 20+ years I spent living with a research scientist and enduring mind-numbingly torturous dinner conversations on zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary.
That kind of clueless.
Oh, sure, there are some things about which I do have a clue, as is true with even the most profoundly clueless among us. For instance, with decades of experience working in public relations behind me, I know quite a bit about organizing news conferences, writing speeches, doing media interviews, or whipping up communications plans. And as a Mayo Clinic-trained survivor of a widow maker heart attack, I know a wee bit about cardiology in general, and quite a bit more about my particular obsession: women’s heart disease. As such, I do have a clue about what it’s like to live with a chronic and progressive illness.
So I can’t help but notice that the difference between me and a surprising number of other people out there seems to be that I am exquisitely aware of both what I do have a clue about, and what I have no clue whatsoever about on any given subject. So I usually try to keep my mouth shut as much as possible whenever encountering the latter.
The same cannot be said, alas, of some tech-types working in the digital health field of self-tracking – and here’s why I dare to make that observation. Continue reading →
There’s a pervasive haze of “If you build it, they will come!” in tech circles these days. Technology, as Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improving life – but only if we keep “solutionism” in check.
This statistic, borrowed from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s report, referred to the 69 per cent of people who say they keep track of things like their weight, exercise, heart rate, food, stress or other health indicators. It also, however, includes almost half of self-reporting trackers who, according to Pew’s Susannah Fox, track these health indicators for themselves or others – but only in their heads.
Surprisingly, very few headlines ran the real news from the report: