Personal Health Information Technology – pHIT

The concept of personal health information technology (also know as pHIT) encompasses all modern innovation in personal digital health including but not limited to biometric sensors, electronic health records, advances in genomics,  as well as activity and self-tracking devices.

Various pHIT systems improve self-knowledge as well as communication between users and various health care providers by increasing the ease by which one can store, share and access health information easily.

2013 – The Year of pHIT

This year is the year of personal health information technology. Over the past several years, the tracking and biometric industry has evolved greatly and made several major achievements, including the first FDA approved bio-tracking mechanism on a mobile phone.

Scientists and prominent figured in the field of self-tracking and biometrics are working on new, more accurate and more efficient devices that allow people to track their health information quicker and more effectively. The convergence of expanding ways to gather data about one’s self, advances in genomics, and the growing field of predictive analytics paired with PHR (personal electronic health record) collectives will improve the accuracy of diagnosis, along with the efficacy of the treatment.

In addition to this, converging self-tracking, genomics, predictive data analysis and biometric information with PHRs will redefine the way people see wellness – it will not only allow us to understand our bodies better, but it will also help us find new ways to improve our health status. Furthermore, it will better help us understand the effects of our lifestyle choices. We can begin to build a better “health map” that will allow us to prevent fatal diseases and conditions, based on personal biomarkers and other health information.

Another advantage of pHIT systems is that they considerably reduce paperwork and human error – all information is collected and stored electronically, therefore eliminating the need for records written by hand potentially reducing an avenue for error. Also, in theory, electronic data can be shared more quickly and safer than hand-written files.

Electronic Information and Privacy

Most personal medical information is protected by HIPAA, an act from 1996 that has established clear and severe rules regarding the security of electronic health information. HIPAA was revised in 2009, and now covers health care providers, along with insurance companies and their business associates. Currently there is still a lot of ambiguity about how HIPPA will be applied in evolving world of pHIT.

The Bottom Line

pHIT will undoubtedly evolve quickly but in my humble opinion is a win-win proposition, both for individuals (who get deeper insight into how their body uniquely works), as well as health care providers  who will undoubtedly have an increasing amount of tools, systems, and modalities in which to serve us better in a paradigm shifting away from disease treatment to one of prevention and well-being.