How far can predictive health take us?

Are you willing to give up your cellular privacy, not to mention control of your lifestyle, for the promise of a longer, healthier life?

Center for Health Discovery at Emory logoThere's a big new buzzword going around my home town of Atlanta.

Predictive health.

The idea is to use what we know of genetics, and disease' process, to maintain good health rather than focus on fixing what goes wrong.

A company with that name, Predictive Health, is already active, although its services sound more like a regular cost containment outfit than anything else.

The Atlanta group holds its annual symposium next month, over at Emory University, and its agenda covers such things as the use of genetics in heart disease, defining health, and the markers of future disease. Georgia Tech is also part of the effort. (Go Jackets. Go...Emoroids?)

Predictive health, in other words, isn't just about cost containment. As the Predictive Health Institute web site notes, the combination of studying genes, proteins, and the use of computer modeling is going to tie in not just with medicine, public health and nursing, but anthropology, ethics, behavior, health policy, law, business and religion.

In order to make this work, in other words, your doctor is going to have to know your genome, get a detailed work-up of your body at an elemental level, and have the power to control your lifestyle as well.

It's easy to see how the cost containment people might view this as a "silver bullet" to limit future growth in costs, but isn't this really a more scientific type of wellness program?

The centerpiece of the effort sounds like just that, a Center for Health Discovery and Well Being located in the old Crawford Long Hospital near downtown Atlanta. It's currently enrolling just Emory and Georgia Tech employees, but when it opens up to ZDNet I'll let you know.

So how far can this take us, and how fast? Are you willing to give up your cellular privacy, not to mention control of your lifestyle, for the promise of a longer, healthier life?

And if all this is proven to work, are you willing to be forced to? Are you willing to force others to?

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