The funhouse mirror : the I in personalised healthcare

Vegter, Mira W.; Zwart, Hub A.E.; Gool, Alain J. van


Precision Medicine is driven by the idea that the rapidly increasing range of relatively cheap and efficient self-tracking devices make it feasible to collect multiple kinds of phenotypic data. Advocates of N = 1 research emphasize the countless opportunities personal data provide for optimizing individual health. At the same time, using biomarker data for lifestyle interventions has shown to entail complex challenges. In this paper, we argue that researchers in the field of precision medicine need to address the performative dimension of collecting data. We propose the fun-house mirror as a metaphor for the use of personal health data; each health data source yields a particular type of image that can be regarded as a ‘data mirror’ that is by definition specific and skewed. This requires competence on the part of individuals to adequately interpret the images thus provided.