Another great example of this change is in our relationship to our general or primary healthcare practitioner. For many of us, when we visit our doctors, we come armed with information and knowledge. We research and focus on the specific things relevant to us and create hypotheses before we visit - to better or worse ends. This sometimes means that the knowledge about this specific situation often lays with us in the discussion rather than the practitioner. The ‘General’ Practitioner may or may not know specifically about X or Y condition. We may have also brought with us health data, such as heart rate or blood pressure measurements or even our microbiome. And of course a host of ideas about what that data is telling us. For many of us the doctor is no longer the oracle and sage of the past, no longer the guardian to a world of information that we are not privy to. Today, much of that information is also available to us. The trick is, knowing how to find it, read it, understanding it and apply it to our individual situation.
This also varies hugely from area to area, doctor to doctor. If the General Practitioners' catchment is affluent and educated the chances are they will also be well informed. If not, then access to the information may not be available or the level of data literacy required may not be there. Asymmetry in information hasn’t disappeared just yet. But we can improve that, by improving data literacy. If we can build people’s skills in reading, working with, analyzing and arguing with data, we can embrace a second age of information that’s far more “evenly distributed”. One where we make better decisions by not only understanding the information we have but also being able to debate and interrogate the stories we are told.