Physicians won't become obsolete any time soon, but the comprehensive integration of everything we know about well-being could revolutionize medical care.
The progress of modern applied science has been defined by a series of outrageously ambitious projects, from the effort to build the first atomic bomb to the race to sequence the human genome.
For scientists and engineers today, perhaps the greatest challenge is the structure and assembly of a unified health database, a "big data" project that would collect in one searchable repository all of the parameters that measure or could conceivably reflect human well-being. This database would be "coherent," meaning that the association between individuals and their data is preserved and maintained. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report described the goal as a "Knowledge Network of Disease," a "unifying framework within which basic biology, clinical research, and patient care could co-evolve."
The information contained in this database - expected to get denser and richer over time -- would encompass every conceivable domain, covering patients (DNA, microbiome, demographics, clinical history, treatments including therapies prescribed and estimated adherence, lab tests including molecular pathology and biomarkers, info from mobile devices, even app use), providers (prescribing patterns, treatment recommendations, referral patterns, influence maps, resource utilization), medical product companies (clinical trial data), payors (claims data), diagnostics companies, electronic medical record companies, academic researchers, citizen scientists, quantified selfers, patient communities - and this just starts to scratch the surface.