How much do you know about your medical identity? You know you’re generally in good health. You know your height and your weight. You know if you have any chronic conditions. But can you remember how many tetanus shots you’ve had? Do you know which percentile your height placed you in for each year of life? Could you tell your doctor the exact amount of time you’ve been taking a prescription medication to the day?
These are the details that make up your “medical identity.” A data scientist would call these details “longitudinal data.” Longitudinal data consists of hundreds of data points that are updated over the course of your life to paint the picture of your health. Each time you go to the doctor’s office, you add data to your longitudinal data set. Medical scribes and your primary care doctor carefully update your file and tuck it away amongst all your records.
But there is a problem with this system. It is slow, cumbersome and practically unsharable. If you change doctors you have to go through length processes to ensure that your records arrive at your new doctor. If disaster strikes and you need your medical records right away, precious time is wasted hunting them down.