Open Health: What Is It And Why Should You Care?

Nick Evans, Adam Henschke | The Conversation | October 2, 2012

“Open health” captures a broad set of information technologies that will change the way we approach health and health care. It encompasses “ehealth” (the storage and provision of personal medical information online) but also includes the release of health information to the public at large. It’s the health side of “open data” policies being pursued by countries all over the world.

The capacity for anyone to access large amounts of health information is likely to have far-reaching effects. We’re researching open health in the United Kingdom, which has one of the most aggressive open data policies in the world, because as Australia enters the world of open health, it’s important to engage with the experiences of other countries in an open and democratic fashion, and apply them to our own situation.

Open health is not just about you having more access to your health data, but making it available and accessible to others — eventually on an unidentifiable but individual scale — as opposed to aggregate data. In the near future, there’s a good chance that yours and everyone else’s personal health information will be available for download by anyone (with identifiers removed)...