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NUEVA YORK –La atención de salud en los Estados Unidos está experimentando un fenómeno interesante y totalmente independiente de lo mucho que se habla sobre los cambios en el sistema de seguros de enfermedad del país: las personas están empezando a hacerse cargo de su salud e intentando evitar la posibilidad de necesitar atención en primer lugar. Del mismo modo que hace mucho las computadoras centrales institucionales quedaron substituidas por las personales, ahora se está haciendo lo mismo con los instrumentos institucionales e individuales, respectivamente, en materia de salud: no para tratar enfermedades graves, como, por ejemplo, el cáncer, desde luego, sino para la vigilancia y la prevención diarias.

Diversas tendencias están contribuyendo a que así sea. En primer lugar, está resultando claro que muchos problemas de salud son autoinducidos: demasiada comida y bebida insanas, demasiado tabaco, demasiado pocas horas de sueño o de ejercicio. Esa idea en modo alguno es nueva, pero ahora resulta más fácil seguir la pista al comportamiento personal. Del mismo modo que podemos utilizar programas informáticos para gestionar nuestro dinero, podemos recurrir a diversos instrumentos informáticos para supervisar nuestro comportamiento y las estadísticas relativas a nuestro cuerpo.

Muchos de dichos instrumentos fueron concebidos por sus autores para sí mismos. Por ejemplo, J. J. Allaire fundó la aplicación de iPhone Lose It! para la pérdida de peso y pasó de 88 a 77 kilos y durante ese proceso consiguió 4,5 millones de usuarios. Como los fundadores de Homebrew Computer Club, un grupo fundamental de “monstruos” de la informática de Berkeley que se agruparon en el decenio de 1980, muchos comenzaron improvisando artilugios y más adelante comprendieron que habían dado con una oportunidad comercial. Muchos de esos nuevos investigadores “caseros” en materia de salud se reúnen en Quantified Self Meetups, donde algunos hacen demostraciones de sus programas informáticos y otros acuden a aprender o comparar datos mutuamente.

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