Health via Knowledge
The Healthy Body
Health Scan Services
Family Health Scan Services
Above are some trial names for a potential health service that, thanks to the Internet, could make it possible for families to keep track of the ongoing physical conditions of their family members through multiple, non-invasive measurements. Food eaten, medicine taken, activities engaged in, and the ability to stand, stretch, walk, and many more activities could be measured and sent to their family health record. What I envision is the use of health clubs, spas, physical therapy offices, school gyms and the like by consultants, to perform the tests and record the results. The consultants would also enlighten the subjects about the meaning of their results, as related to their own physical condition, their development, current and prospective physical problems and the relationship of their personal physical condition relative to other people of the same age, and  sex. All results would be private and restricted to oversight by the families, who can opt for their results to be included in a broad data gathering effort for health research purposes. Further, it seems reasonable that insurance companies and health providing organizations would want to participate, even to the extent of subsidizing the service, so the cost to individuals would be very small.  However, in my view, there should be a total separation of health scans from any proprietary activities restricted to the medical profession, such as diagnosis, and treatment.
Since the data gathered would be extremely valuable for medical research, I would envision that in time the medical community and drug industry would want to use it. Among the benefits to them would be the protection it would provide by having an arms-length relationship from the clients, which would insulate them from costly legal entanglements.
As one thinks about the possibility of using such health scanning services, one can envision families becoming healthier by eating better, exercising more, and taking less medicine, which would result from learning more about the actual condition of their bodies over time. Costly health services should also become less expensive as visits to doctors' offices become more productive because patients can share their total personal health profiles with medical practitioners.
A typical session with a Family Health Scan Service consultation might be as follows:
The first one out of the exercise room is the ten-year-old son who takes his own temperature while the consultant attaches several electro-sensitive patches to his arms and legs before running a quick series of tests. This is followed by measuring the lengths of his arms, legs, and torso, and the flexure of his joints with an automatic, wireless measuring device. All of the data is automatically entered into his personal record in the database. He finishes by telling what he has eaten and asking about any health issues he is concerned about.
Next come his sister, who goes through the same routine, and opts to ask about some of the changes she and her girls friends are experiencing.
Mother and dad come in together and after being scanned and after providing additional personal data, they ask to see their children's records and they discuss things they have questions about. In addition many couples ask for more information based on the health histories developed over time, which show how their health compares with similar individuals from a related population.
Finally, participants are given a list of both long-term and short term health goals they would like to achieve before the next visit. If they wish, they can have the list sent to their medical practitioners in order to verify that the goals are realistic from a medical standpoint and so their doctors can offer treatment where needed to achieve them.
Overall, a family health scanning service should put health care back into the hands of parents so they have the best information and tools possible to take care of their own families.  
Below sent as a letter to the editor of the Daily Breeze 12-22-08
Dear Sir:
Regarding your editorial on Health Care Reform, I wonder if there isn't a problem with the term "care" itself. Care is what one provides to sick people. Instead of focusing on care I believe we should be promoting good health practices, so as to avoid going into or under care. We all know many things we can do as individuals to maintain and even improve our own health. They are the things that mothers instinctively give their children -- wholesome food, lots of exercise, plenty of rest, and endless hugging and kissing. In cases where these activities don't result in good health, such as from an injury or by getting infected by some stray bacteria or virus, we may require the application of targeted medical procedures followed by nursing care. Between the hugging and kissing and nursing care there should be long stretches of good health, interrupted only by nominal aches and pains. However, as one's body matures, changes occur that we should know about because they may have health consequences. For instance doctors say early detection of cancer symptoms is the key to its successful treatment.
Therefore, I believe our national health imperative should be to encourage families to keep on doing what they do best, "Yes, do what your mother says!" but also to participate in creating a national health records system to let us know how we as individuals stack up health-wise against the rest of the population. We need such information as individuals to know whether we need to change some of our habits and the country needs it to know where to put its medical research dollars.
Bob Freeman
611 Esplanade
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
I should have added a final line saying, "Therefore, rather than more health care we need more health data collection and dissemination for use in improving the health of our families."
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Getting Healthy by Getting Scanned