A 2014 study estimated that about 5% of those who went to a doctor were misdiagnosed (Rettner, 2014). If the underlying condition was serious, misdiagnosis jumped to 20% (Bernstein, 2017). Yikes!

However, given the state of medical knowledge in the past centuries, today’s diagnostic accuracy looks pretty good. In medieval times and even back to Hippocrates, the doctors considered the balance of the four “humors” to diagnose patients. The humors included melancholic (black bile), phlegmatic (phlegm), choleric (yellow bile) and sanguine (blood). It was believed that an imbalance of these four humors in the body was the root cause of the patients’ woes. To us, this ideology is, well, humorous, but it was cutting-edge for centuries. It is no wonder few people lived past the age of 40.

Since the days of the humors, the ability to collect all sorts of other data – and derive knowledge from those data — has increased impressively. Yet, people are still getting misdiagnosed. Would even more data be helpful? It turns out that simply binging at the data buffet or tapping into the omics geyser does not help. It just overwhelms. Or worse – it contributes to the misdiagnosis.

Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta, writes about how the “datapocalypse” is not making us healthier, just more overwhelmed (Caulfield, 2019); people become less motivated and unhealthier. In the piece, he advocates for people to not buy into the hype that more data will empower healthier lives. Instead, he says, just do more living.

More data alone is unlikely to be beneficial to people’s health. However, it is important to recognize that having the right data is critical to help improve health and reduce misdiagnosis. Proteins could be those data. Your proteins can help diagnose the status and direction of your health, and show the consequences of decisions made in response to that information. Hundreds of publications using our protein-measurement technology demonstrate this to be true.

So, Caulfield’s suggestion of a medical declutter seems a reasonable approach to us. We believe that protein data in its own right will spark joy and be more informative than the four humors (or even genomics) in assisting doctors to more accurately diagnose and help people live healthier lives.

 

References

Bernstein, L. (2017, April 4) 20 Percent of Patients with Serious Conditions are First Misdiagnosed, Study Says. The Washington Post. Retrieved on July 18, 2019 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/20-percent-of-patients-with-serious-conditions-are-first-misdiagnosed-study-says/2017/04/03/e386982a-189f-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.17afac99b0e3.

Caulfield, T. (2019, July 21) Wellness Culture’s Obsession with Fitbits, 23andMe and Data Isn’t Necessarily Making Us Healthier. NBC News. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/wellness-culture-s-obsession-fitbits-23andme-data-isn-t-necessarily-ncna1029946

Rettner, R. (2014, April 16) 12 Million Misdiagnoses Occur Yearly in US, Study Finds. Livescience. Retrieved on July 18, 2019 from https://www.livescience.com/44888-misdiagnosis-doctors-visits.html.