Will Geocoding Drive Diagnosis and Treatment?

Posted on March 28, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently came across a pediatrician cartoonist named Dr. Jack Maypole (@jackmaypole on Twitter). He’s got some pretty funny healthcare cartoons and often makes jokes about technology including the following one:

That’s pretty funny to think about. Although, I’m sure many doctors who see this won’t think it’s that funny because it illustrates the deluge of data that is heading doctors way. It can be a bit overwhelming and I know many doctors who shun the waves of health data that are coming towards them. There’s just too much and they don’t have a good way to process it. We all need AI, machine learning, neural networks, etc to get to work and make the deluge of data actionable for doctors.

While the data scientists work on that problem, it is interesting to think if geocoded data could be useful for doctors. Your geocoded data says a lot more about you than you realize. My geocoded data would certainly know that I pulled up to a McDonald’s and sat in the drive through. Of course, it doesn’t know if I ate it or if I was just ordering something for my kids. Plus, it doesn’t know if I got the salad or the Big Mac. So, there are flaws in it, but you could still open the door to some good conversations with your doctor or even better, your health coach.

Geocoded data could also be really interesting when thinking about social isolation. For those dealing with depression or anxiety, it would be valuable to know that they haven’t left their house in the last week.

Yes, there are certainly a lot of privacy questions here. However, I think more people would be willing to share this data than we probably realize. The real challenge is making the data valuable. We could anecdotally think of examples that benefit patients. However, we can likely think of 10 examples where the data was useless or even misled a doctor for every positive example. This is why we need to not only have the data, but make it actionable. That’s the challenge of the next decade.