Are You Ready for GPS Medicine?

By Russ Ward (@russcward)
Bill Davenhall of ESRI, a geographic information software developer, spoke at TEDMED in a talk that’s just been posted called “Your Health Depends on Where You Live“.

He shows an iPhone prototype app that could provide “geomedicine” data – locating the user and mapping it against all of the maps of publicly available data that exist for disease prevalence, chemical pollutants, etc.

Geomedicine? Isn’t it thrilling? It’s like an academic mashup. An entirely new field created because we have the power now to combine data from two different departments. Better, faster, more educated decisions enabled by technology.

And, while it’s exciting of its own accord, it’s also exciting because of what it suggests. What’s next? What other fields have connections that previous generations couldn’t have seen?

We already have bioethics, sociobiology… What other academic disciplines can match up with health-related studies? Here are just a few – some more traditional, some less.

Psychology + sports medicine.

Fine arts + health.

Religion + medicine.

Gender studies + clinical trials.

Agriculture + nutrition.

Marine biology + pharmacy.

Now, what could you create that would work with one of those combinations? Or, what could pairs up two other disciplines in a new way?

Think about it. An app. A campaign. A website. A philanthropic project.

And what more opportunities are inherent in geomedicine? Davenhall offers as an example that a doctor can tell you not to run outside in the ozone to improve your health. But there are so many more things to learn. Do people tend to have better aerobic health if they live near more sports and recreation facilities? Are people who live near chemical disasters showing unexpected clusters of illness? Are immigrants more or less likely than their families back home to experience different kinds of health?

There’s so much potential here, it’s thrilling.

What has this made you think of?

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