Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Why your doctor should know where you have lived


Genes and how you live are important to good health—but where you live is also critical, and its importance has been overlooked in the past. At the TED MED conference yesterday, Bill Davenhall, global marketing manager, health and human services solutions at ESRI, a geographic information system developer, made a compelling plea to add a history of places to medical information that doctors review. “TED” is for technology, entertainment, design; the conference runs from October 27 through 30 at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

Davenhall had suffered a heart attack that seemed inexplicable given his past health history—until he matched up the risk factors in places where he’d lived in the past. He had lived in several areas that had environmental factors associated with heart disease. Such a history could be compiled from cell-phone tracking data and added to other patient information for doctors to use. Alana B. Alias Cornfeld provides further details in her excellent Huffington Post blog.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Starting Thanksgiving

Enter code: HOLIDAY 2015
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >


Email this Article