The first time I heard this expression I was puzzled. As I learnt more I was won over, now I am an ardent supporter of the trend.
It was during an interview with an American start-up business attached to a teaching hospital. They described a product they had developed to allow users to perform sophisticated blood tests on themselves. Demand was currently limited they said, but with the democratization of health they expected rapid growth.
This is about us taking responsibility for our own health. Not replacing doctors and consultants, but improving the healthcare process so it is fit for purpose in a 24×7 digitally enabled society. The start point is looking after ourselves so, as far as possible, we don’t place demands on the health service. As and when we do need help we present ourselves with a comprehensive record of vital signs – weight, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, blood test results (if their kit is available!) and medical and family history. Presenting with such information enables the doctor to know what is ‘normal’ and identify what has changed – speeding diagnosis and, if necessary, onward referral.
However the real value I see is that, through the process of collecting and recording this information, we become aware of what is happening to us and are well placed to take steps to address matters at the earliest stages. With greater awareness and better feedback we deal with issues early – without the need for medical intervention. Doctors and consultants are reserved for those who really need them.
Increasingly the tools to democratize health are available. You don’t have to go to the expense of an Apple Watch there are free Apps and low cost devises that will do the job just as well – see our guides.