People and industries in healthcare boast about all the new discoveries that will be coming our way: new methods to regenerate organs, transplantations, robotic surgeries, implantable devices, new biological agents. These are also all going to be exceptionally costly technologies priced at tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each. This is because healthcare is about building its business and generating maximum revenues, whether or not health is actually served.
But the most exciting health discoveries, I believe, will not be from such things. Instead, as health tools and information become increasingly available to the public, new health answers will come from the “crowd.” If non-diabetics track blood sugar, it reveals how diet can be managed to not have diabetes. If people with Parkinson’s disease can track their condition using voice analysis software, people will fortuitously stumble on strategies that slow, perhaps reverse, the condition. Someone with an anxiety disorder can track various physiological phenomena (e.g., heart rate variability, skin temperature, EEG wave patterns) on a smartphone that, when managed via biofeedback, can prevent an anxiety attack and eliminate the need for prescription anti-anxiety medication.
We are on the cusp of an era in which there will be a flood of new observations, helpful associations, and powerful ways to impact health conditions. And, because they come from everyday people not intent on profit, they will be inexpensive and accessible. New online collaborative platforms will even allow us to test new ideas—some will work, some will not. But think of the possibilities for the future in discovering new ways that we can apply to ourselves to regain control over health. We do this outside of the healthcare system, without hospitals and without doctors, without extremes of cost. This is why I call it “Undoctored.”