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In his TEDMED talk, Thomas Goetz, executive editor at Wired Magazine and author of the book "The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine"
discusses the issues surrounding medical data, and how it has the inherent power to drive behavior change.

More particularly, he analyzes how we tend to communicate messages about health to people (e.g. mainly through conveying images of fear) and makes the bold call to make such health information more relevant and personal (e.g. by unpacking personal choices). Soon he focuses on the current practice of conveying lab test results by way of numerical tables, and explains how this is the worst information presentation possible. He then presents a compelling visual redesign of these reports, which aim to provide more insight to lay patients, and ultimately should empower them to act on the information shown.

Watch the talk below.

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3 COMMENTS

I have shown the article published in Wired to a couple of doctors. Both said that, while they appreciate the concept, it makes medical test results much more easily misinterpreted by the patient. For example; a drug that a patient takes may artificially elevate a certain reading to the "red" zone. So the patient only sees that something is "in the red" and becomes overly anxious about something they are misinterpreting.

Sun 27 Mar 2011 at 4:17 AM
Patrick Ripley

Makes perfect sense, and a step towards controlling the Pharmakon of information duality. See Derrida through Plato.

Fri 01 Apr 2011 at 5:10 PM

@ Ripley: I'd bear what your physician friends say with a grain of salt and await the results of a study or two. Physicians -- god love them -- tend to be humans and thus have the same cognitive shortcomings as the rest of us, including biases that convince us that our anecdotal experiences are true reflections of the world as it exists.

Mon 02 May 2011 at 10:33 PM
Andrew F.
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