So what’s a good solution?

As a doctor working in an Emergency Department and seeing patients (sic: people) with largely preventable conditions/diseases alot of the time, I really like the idea of personalised medicine and involving patients and empowering them to take control of their healthcare. Brushing teeth is an excellent example that I wouldn’t have thought of before. However, I would echo some of the previous comments on the dangers/naivety of providing some of this info. Lab results are only relevant when married to the clinical information (i.e. the pateint’s history, symptoms, past history and examination findings). This information is far more important and lab tests should only then be done to confirm or rule out your findings from the clinical info. Therefore providing patient information printouts based on the lab results alone is foolish and dangerous.

Also the speaker makes a good point that fear does not work in health education/promotion. I think that giving a patient a printout saying that you have 15% (or whatever) chance of getting prostate cancer/breast cancer/arthritis/whatever is probably one of the most fear-inducing things you can do to a patient. Especially considering it is almost impossible to generate that kind of accurate prediction of any condition based on a blood test or even group of blood tests.

The speaker also says that they have used colour (as if to say “Duh why hasn’t this been done before”). The dept I work in has been told by hospital management to stop ordering more paper as the hospital acn’t afford it. We have had to totally rationalise the amt we are printing and handing out. I know this happens alot of places in the public health system. So we have barely enough paper to put in printers let alone colour printers and the cartridges to keep them running. he may be aiming his comments at the lab companies that make all that money but I feel his talk doesn’t take into account the practicalities that exist in an ED / other healthcare settings

John Cronin (Posted 3 years ago) on Thomas Goetz’s TEDMED talk titled: It’s time to redesign medical data.

I found this comment as a perfect example of the real challenge on Information Design in Healthcare still Today.

We have to think and design for real practice with its context, its users, its information quality. Colour sometimes is a luxury and ranges, percentages and reference values could mislead instead of giving support.


By Carmel Hassan Montero

Product Designer and Computer Engineering graduated from the University of Granada. I'm based in Málaga (Spain), working remotely designing at Honest. I'm also a proud founder of Yes We Tech, and support tech events that care about promoting diversity and equality among its members.