Until now, formalised health data has been inaccessible to consumers, stored on hospital computers or retained by third-party companies to be sold on to large pharmaceutical conglomerates. However, new products and services are signalling times of change by giving users immediate access and ownership of their own personal medical information.
For The Future Laboratory (opens in new tab)'s recent Health & Wellness Futures Forum, we created Bio Tracker (opens in new tab), a speculative platform that enables people to explore the future of democratised data ownership, where consumers, not pharmaceutical companies, are in charge of their health data.
In the near future, consumers could manage their health data through platforms like Bio Tracker, which would allow them to review which companies have access to their clinical records, and also select which information to exchange for brand partnerships and exclusive product rewards. From occasional users hoping to claim product discounts to sharing enthusiasts selling their data in exchange for universal basic income, the emergence of data tracking and trading services will give rise to completely new consumer behaviours and desires.
The Bio Tracker concept is based on innovations emerging at the intersection of healthcare and technology. An early example of this is a new feature in the Apple Health app that will aggregate medical data from participating hospitals and clinics, as well as from the iPhone, giving users immediate access for the ultimate convenience.
Blockchain technology is taking this one step further by providing new opportunities for peer-to-peer services that not only enable people to take control of their own health-related data, but monetise it too. CoverUS (opens in new tab)’s blockchain-based data marketplace allows consumers to generate a biometric revenue stream by populating their digital wallet with information from an electronic health record (EHR). The brand pays for the data collected through the fixed-price cryptocurrency CoverCoin, which, in the future, the company hopes users will be able to spend on services such as gym membership.
Citizen Health (opens in new tab) is a healthcare community built on the Ethereum blockchain that aims to eradicate the health insurance model. Billed as a ‘decentralised Amazon for surgeries, treatments and other healthcare needs’, the brand also aims to monetarily incentivise people to lead healthier lifestyles by collating data from popular health and fitness trackers, using its algorithm to calculate changes in the user’s health score over time. It awards Medit tokens, which can be exchanged for exclusive rewards.
With such significant consumer shifts already happening, it’s only a matter of time before we each have our own unique Bio Trackers. The big question is, how will you trade your personal health data?
This article was originally published in issue 283 of Computer Arts (opens in new tab), which is out now – buy it here (opens in new tab). Read more from The Future Laboratory here (opens in new tab) and subscribe to Computer Arts here (opens in new tab).