The Decision Tree Makes Health Decisions Easier

The Decision TreeBy Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

I’m fascinated with a new book and the corresponding blog by its author – they might have some simple ideas about healthcare that can make us all healthier.

And, professionally, we can use these ideas to help other patients.

Thomas Goetz’s The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine turns our view of health and healthcare on its head. It is not a vast universe of immensely complex data, overwhelming to all but the most learned experts. It’s – obviously enough, given the title – a decision tree.

Rememberflowcharts, so popular before the ubiquity of computing and code? That’s all he’s talking about here. This-then-that.

The best way to understand it is to play with it, and you can do that with The Decision Tree Widget (a great addition to his site.)

The concepts at play are – as with most successful ideas – elegantly simple. It seems like what it comes down to are these three things:

  • Awareness – Monitoring your health so that you truly know yourself and your body.
  • Focus – Paring down the overwhelming universe of information to just the few actionable choices that are relevant.
  • Motivation – Finding tangible benefits for making the “right” decisions.

Check out the Tweetstreams ofThomas, the book‘s author, as well as his blog colleague Brian. Their ideas are a tantalizing blend of obvious and fascinating, and I’d love to start a conversation with them here.

But while their information is useful for us all as health consumers, it’s also relevant for us as professionals. The concept behind all of their work is the idea of being proactive – that health is about making decisions, not letting things happen to you. Our work in technology, and specifically in the social space, is all about helping people become more aware of specific information that’s useful or interesting for them – so what we’re all trying to do is right in line with these concepts.

When the book is published next month, that’s what I’ll be reading it and looking for. I can’t wait.

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One Response to The Decision Tree Makes Health Decisions Easier

  1. asf says:

    Unfortunately, the decision widget (for smoking cessation) is overly simplistic and fails to address the broad range of variables that maintain the target behavior (tobacco use).

    Mind you, there’s real promise here. I’d love to see a more fleshed out widget that really helps patients understand, anticipate, and develop strategies to manage the barriers to successful behavior change.