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.”
Where will the most exciting and useful health discoveries be coming from, in coming years?
These are the sorts of conversations I entertain in my new book Undoctored — Why Health Care Has Failed You And How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor. Where will all be most exciting and useful practical tools for health becoming from — the drug industry, the medical device industry, multinational corporations, the US government?
I predict we’re in a new age where there are new rules being applied, and new tools available to us. One of the most exciting things we have available to us now are tracking tools for health. For instance, a mathematician in Boston recorded the voices of thousands of people with Parkinsonism; various degrees of severity of Parkinson’s Disease, as well as people without Parkinsonism. He developed a mathematical algorithm that allows voice recognition to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. It’s more accurate, more precise, than an MRI — and has virtually done it almost no cost, as compared to the many thousands of dollars of an MRI (coupled with the toxic effects of the gadolinium dye they use to obtain the images).
Even better, this software analysis is also quantitative. MRIs are not quantitative. They’re crudely qualitative, good/bad, in between. The voice recognition is quantitative. This inexpensive tool; what if it were made available to the thousands of people with Parkinsonism. They have now a means to track progression, or reversal, regression of their disease, or at least stabilization. Imagine what that means — put this measuring, tracking tool, in the hands of thousands of people with the condition. They’re not going to explore new drugs or new procedures on the brain. They going to explore simple, natural, accessible things, like maybe nutritional supplements or some kind of new health practice.
What will happen, I predict, is someone will accidentally, fortuitously, observe in, Galveston Texas, that doing X slowed the disease down, maybe even caused it to reverse — maybe some combination of supplements or some other combination of strategies. He reports this in some collaborative online discussion. Somebody in San Francisco says “That’s interesting. I want to try it.” He or she tries it, sees the same effect. He or she shares that experience. Someone in New York tries it, and then a bunch of people collaborate online with it: let’s try it with a hundred people. Here’s what we’re going to do; we all collaborate and report our experience, over whatever, three months, whatever time period required, depending on the condition you’re talking about.
Think where that could lead us, multiplied by thousands and thousands of times, thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people. We’re going to be flooded with incredible solutions. We’ll also learn what doesn’t work, right, but that’s okay. That’s part of the learning process, the process of exploring our health for answers. Think of the edge we’ll get. We’ll get answers like: these two supplements reverse this condition, or slow it down — not some drug at $3000 a month, that requires an injection, and all kinds of out-of-pocket costs, in addition to insurance burden — or some implantable device at tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the healthcare system and may work (probably doesn’t).
Think of it: we’re in this exciting new time where the answers in health will be coming from people like you and me, because we collaborate. We’re going to have access to new tools to identify and track various conditions. The answers will be inexpensive, accessible, safe, and we can prove whether they are effective or not. That is the future of health; the kind of health I call Undoctored.