California is a microcosm of the challenges and opportunities posed by the crisis in health care in the United States. As the elderly population of the state doubles in the next fifteen years the prevalence of disabilities and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer are projected to rise. With California’s medical system under increasing fiscal pressures, what is needed now, more than ever, are innovative approaches promoting both individual and population health, bringing health care costs down, and improving the quality of life of our citizens.
Many researchers believe society is in the early days of a digital transformation of health and health care that will radically change how disease is diagnosed, treated, or prevented. This transformation will be ushered in by an explosion of biomedical data coming from sources as varied as personal “real time” health sensors for behavioral and physiological monitoring to population-wide individual genetic sequencing. The increasing digitization of individual medical and behavioral data across human populations, combined with digital data on environmental factors important to health, will support new discoveries about the causes of premature morbidity and mortality. Individuals’ access to their own data will provide direct feedback on the effects of diet and exercise. This data revolution will synergize with continuing fundamental research in biomedicine and neuroscience.