The Decision Tree: How can we make better choices for our health?


Today, we have more opportunities to engage with our health than ever. But too often, the science comes at us in a babble of research and recommendations that is abstract, fearful, and disempowering. It doesn’t engage us. It doesn’t compel us to act.

But what if health information came at us when it helped illuminate our options, rather than overwhelm them? And what if health information was customized to our own circumstances and persons, tailored to our own wishes, values, and metrics? That’s the idea behind the Decision Tree, which is a new book and a new idea about personalized medicine and health. There are new tools and technologies that can help us craft a personal strategy for making the best choices that lead to the best outcomes. This is a Decision Tree – and it’s a powerful way to think about our health.

To begin, we created The Decision Tree¬†widget, a simple tool lets you build your own Decision Tree for a variety of health concerns, from obesity to heart disease. The widget is a great way to give people an idea of what the Decision Tree actually means, to put the idea to work. It’s not diagnostic or prescriptive – it won’t tell you what to do. But it will give you an idea of what a personalized decision-making tool might accomplish, and how we can better tailor information to a specific decision or choice. Because our health, when it comes right down to it, isn’t a static thing – it’s not something that we “maintain” like it’s stuck in one place. Our health is the consequence of a multitude of actions, and when we better understand the repercussions of each different choice, we can better navigate our way to better health.

Thomas Goetz is the Executive Editor of WIRED magazine, and the author of The Decision Tree.

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