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Mary Meeker’s 2017 report highlights the health tech distortion field

Health tech future: you have to love the wording – and this time, the press ate it up.  Apparently at the time no one really noticed the 2016 Rock Health report on ‘willingness’ to share health data.  But times have changed. So Mary Meeker’s report, which everyone now quotes, cites that data as though it were important input for brands.  And now it is really and inaccurately famous. She opines, that of the 'brands well-positioned for digital health’ – the leader is Google.  The oft-quoted answer (see Tech Crunch “Pretty neat” insight): "Meeker’s report says a full 60 percent of us were willing to share our health data with Google in 2016."  That does sound pretty neat, huh? 

Into the reality distortion field went Mary Meeker. So what WAS the question that produced the graph that she bundled into this 365-page snoozer of a report: "With which tech company would you be willing to share your data?"  Never mind that this does not say "do you share your data?" Also, she does not bother with the tiny note that goes with this slide in the Rock Health report: "This question was only asked to those who answer "Yes" to being willing to share their data with a tech company at all." So ya gotta ask: what percent of 4,015 responders said they were willing to share health data with a tech company at all? That was a mere 8% (321 people).  And as for what ranked higher than a tech company?  The government, insurance companies and bio pharma firms. So maybe don't bet your savings just yet.

This so-called data is used to describe the significance of Silicon Valley's role in healthcare.  Okay, no more self-fulfilling prophecies offered up by Kleiner Perkins - a magnet for, uh, fellows (no really!). For those of you who have not had the opportunity, consider before giving up your health data to any tech company. First read up on the biggest 2017 health data breaches (as of July). Then if you must pursue heatlh tech innovation, contemplate the parts of the health innovation world that are not Silicon Valley and may not be hitched at the neighborhood hip with Google. Is there no place else?  Really? How about New York, Boston, Durham, or Miami

Next, if you are writing for Tech Crunch, the Verge or similar, heads up.  Go back to the data sources of wild-eyed assertions. It may be that Digital Health is our future, and likely it is even our present, though CIOs may not be there just yet.  Too bad our doctor doesn’t want our fitness band data.  But remain optimistic! Apple will no doubt reveal the next big thing in health tech innovation from Silicon Valley. So wait for it. On the other hand will the people who have the most significant health issues and account for the greatest percentage of overall health spending be of any interest to The Verge, Tech Crunch, or others in the'unstoppable rise of digital healthcare'? Let’s go ask Mary.


It looks like we would be much better off if we took care of own medical records ourselves, all of them.  Why not let Microsoft or Google or Apple or Facebook(what?) help out? As long as it is on your terms. It is hard to imagine a headline that reads: “Microsoft HealthVault breach – everyone’s medical records downloaded after employee leaves password on post-it”.  Hackers don’t want your PMR.  They don’t care about yours alone.  Remember Google Health? Unfortunately younger people go to the doctor about once every two or three years.  If you make your money from ads that doesn't add up to lots of engagement. Digital health is essential. Everyone who wants independence and autonomy as they get older needs a good interoperable PMR system that they control.  There are a few Silicon Valley startups working on it.