Patient Engagement Through Self-Tracking


At TEDMED 2013, UCSF Chancellor (@UCSFChancellor) Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD discussed the need for patient engagement in our healthcare system. Her argument that medicine should be a team sport is a good one. As medical care becomes more complex and technology has become more available, the responsibility of any individual’s health is not just on their physician but on themselves. Physicians should take the necessary steps to find ways to encourage patients to feel like they are in charge — not taking orders.

One way in which power is being given back to patients is in the form of online websites and digital applications used to track their symptoms, medications and personal history and connect with people around the globe with similar concerns. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of connecting with Katie McCurdy, a UX designer who inspired by the needs of her chronic illness is focusing on how to change healthcare. She created her own visual timeline of her symptoms which made its way around the web. At Stanford MedicineX last year she spoke about patient self-tracking.

(Fast forward to around 7:08 for Katie’s portion of the talk)

Now the question remains: how can we inspire patients without a UX design background to take advantage of new tools to better track their health and contribute to the conversations that happen in the office everyday?