The (possible) role of data storage at healthbank in chronic diseases and prevention (by Margot Vanfleteren)

150 million people suffer financially due to healthcare costs. 30 million people die each year from chronic diseases.

The chance of you having diabetes, a chronic disease, is 1 in 11 (2).

Can you prevent chronic illnesses? What’s the perfect role as person living with a chronic disease in the care?

How can Healthbank help you to reach full health potential?


30 million people die each year from non-communicable diseases (NCD), also called chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in the world. A non-communicable disease is a medical condition which is non-infectious and non-transmissible among people (3). 80% of the chronic diseases can be prevented (5).

Apart from the intra- and interpersonal issues associated with NCD’s there are also socio-economic challenges. Imagine a person newly diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This person is working in a super market, his job demands physical activity. As the years progress the person has not enough breathing capacity left to fulfill its job demand’s. This person will most likely be prone to request some sort of socio-economic support in order to cover up for the lost wage. This is a possible socio-economic influence of chronic diseases.

NCD’s are grouped into four main types: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. However, there’s also good news. Most NCD’s have a large number of factors which can be changed in order to reduce the chance of developing an NCD (5).

People use the word “healthy lifestyle” when describing the actions, they take to improve their overall health and/or lower the chances of developing a chronic disease. Factors you, as a person, can keep an eye on in order to improve your health outcome include: tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity (5). All of these can be measured in a life span. It’s of personal interest to follow-up whether you’ve exercised, consumed a moderate diet, had moderate alcohol intake and whether or not you smoked, and if so, how much. When bringing together these personal data on country level target prevention can be induced. Also the care for those with chronic diseases can be improved with larger data sets.

Once an NCD is developed a patient’s role in the treatment plays a critical role in the care outcome and it’s the quality of life.

But what is the role of a patient in chronic care? This is a question to be answered within a setting. Each patient and disease is different. As a result, the way a patient can fulfill its role should be tailored to the setting. One thing seems persistent to me in answering the question. The responsibilities of the role should be maintained over a prolonged period of time as a chronic disease is slow in progression.

A chronic disease should be approached from various angles. Not only physical nor psychological. A multidisciplinary approach is preferred in chronic care (4).

Moreover, there’s a tendency towards patient empowerment, for sure in chronic diseases. Central in patient-empowered care is a patient who makes (informed) treatment decisions, together with healthcare professionals, and understands information in regards to a disease but as well is capable to reflect on the provided information. Key here is that empowered patient is in the need of objective data and information. Patient empowerment is getting more important in chronic care as time is limited and the amount of patients keeps growing (1). As the time per patient is limited, patient empowerment provides the possibility for tailored care without reducing the actual quality of care. Following-up, in today’s setting an empowered patient is preferred in prolonged care.

healthbank helps people with chronic diseases to get insight on their treatment plan and lifestyle. healthbank this way empowers patients by providing objective data from which a patient, in consent with their healthcare team, can make decisions. In addition, we’re living in a globalized world. A patient may live in Germany but travel to the US. When this patient gets ill and needs professional help the healthbank platform may help out with necessary health data. Moreover, healthbank aims to inform and raise awareness amongst patients about data rights in the clinical setting. People living with a chronic disease gather a lot of data as their disease progresses. By putting this data to use for research purposes in the healthbank platform the patient is an active participant in research and has full ownership of its data. The patient can opt-in to share his data for research and be paid for its delivered value.

However, one could argue that care starts before the diagnosis. Prevention. The gold standard.

As mentioned beforehand the risk for NCD’s can be greatly reduced. This by a moderate diet, regular physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and no tobacco use. Individuals without chronic disease may also collect health data over time and see their evolution in their lifestyle patterns. This way they can intervene in time and greatly reduce the risks for developing chronic diseases.

So what are you waiting for to start collecting your health data and improve or protect your health?



(1) European Network on Patient Empowerment (n.d.). About Patient Empowerment.

Retrieved from

(2) International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 7th edn. Brussels, Belgium:

International Diabetes Federation, 2015.

(3) Kim, H. C., & Oh, S. M. (2013). Noncommunicable Diseases: Current Status of Major

Modifiable Risk Factors in Korea. J Prev Med Public Health, 46(4), 165-172. doi:10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.4.165

(4) Wagner EH. Chronic disease management: What will it take to improve care for

chronic illness? Effective Clinical Practice. 1998;1(1):2-4.

(5) World Health organization (2010). Global status report on noncommunicable diseases.

Retrieved from:



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