— Berci Meskó, MD, PhD (@Berci) August 21, 2016
I always find stats like this interesting, but misleading. The fallacy that most people apply to a stat like this is saying that because people want something they will actually do it. In this case, just because 90% of people want to self-manage their care, that doesn’t mean that 90% of patients will actually self-manage their care.
90% of people want to stop smoking, but they don’t. 100% of people want to be more fit and healthy, but we don’t. There are a lot of things that we want, but that doesn’t mean we actually want it enough to do something about it.
The reality is that most of us don’t think about our health until we have a problem. If you ask us if we care about our health, we’d all say that we do. However, our actions tell a very different story. Our actions say that most of us don’t really care about our health. Or at least that we don’t care about it enough to give up things that are harming our health.
In many ways our health system reflects this fact. Our doctor doesn’t really worry about our overall health. Our doctor mostly treats our chief complaint. In many cases, they don’t even dig down past our chief complaint. They certainly don’t proactively look for ways our lifestyle or environment are impacting our health. Should that change?
The question I keep asking is if the doctor is the right person to address this type of change in perspective when it comes to health. Should the doctor be the one to understand our overall health and address our health risks? Should we do it ourselves? Should a health app do it for us in a way that it motivates us enough to actually care about the unhealthy choices we make?
The last option seems like the most likely option to me. Doctors aren’t trained to treat you when you’re healthy. It would take a sea change for them to switch roles. Health apps, the health sensors that inform these apps, and the baseline health knowledge are all progressing so quickly that it’s not hard to see a day when a health app could better help us understand how the choices we make influence our health.
What do you think? Is there anything that will really help us understand the health impact from the choices we make? Do patients really want to self-manage their care?