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Essay on Lifestyle

What iPhone-based health care could look like in 10 years

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis—chronic conditions such as these account for 84% of health care spending. Yet many are preventable. An estimated 40% of all premature deaths can be attributed to lifestyle, such as smoking and inactivity. How can the health care system shift focus (and dollars) from acute to preventative care?
The Seattle-based design firm Artefact has created a compelling new concept called Chronicle. It would be the first app to monitor someone’s health across various chronic diseases, as it compares to others with similar conditions, in real time.

“It’s about all this time you’re not actually focused on your condition, sitting in your home doing research about it,” says Matthew Jordan, insights and strategy director at Artefact. “Real life is where the biggest risks are, which is why we wanted to think of something like Chronicle.”


Chronicle is a hypothetical mobile health care app. You enter your condition(s), and it monitors you throughout the day via whatever sensors you might have on your body—that might include your phone’s GPS and accelerometer, but also, something like a wrist-worn heart-rate monitor or over-the-shoulder personal oxygen system. You opt in to share this data into a pool of patients with similar conditions (much like PatientsLikeMe). On the back end, the system crunches hidden trends to warn you on a moment’s notice.

Sure, it’s the same big data promise we’ve heard before, but Artefact demonstrates how it might be useful in immediate, day-to-day interventions. They give the example of a hypothetical woman named Olivia who suffers from a chronic lung disease and is outside for a morning stroll to get coffee. One coffee shop is at the top of a tall hill. The other is just down the street. She’s at a crossroads. Which one is right? Enter The 2016 Innovation By Design Awards now through May 5!

“Let’s say, two years ago, someone with the same lung capacity and blood oxygen levels had walked up the same hill and had to call an ambulance,” Jordan says. “Can we translate, record, and give those insights back to Olivia?”
Maybe. Imagine Chronicle could see her path, air intake, oxygen levels, heart rate, and the temperature and humidity around her. From this data, Chronicle could push an easily readable “layered insight” to her, right as she stands at this fork in the road for her health.

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