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Observations of Daily Living

Project HealthDesign has identified observations of daily living (ODLs) as an important source of patient-generated data for personal health records (PHRs) and the broader health data ecosystem. Most health Teen girl portraying various moodsinformation is collected from individuals using clinical tools and communicated in ways that have little meaning to patients. ODLs allow patients to contribute personally meaningful information to clinicians.

ODLs can include:

  • Quantity and quality of sleep
  • Moods experienced in day-to-day life
  • The ease with which an individual completes daily tasks
  • Level of pain experienced throughout the day
  • Fluctuations in day-to-day stress

ODLs provide:

  • Subtle clues that individuals pay attention to as they monitor their health.
  • A way for patients to gauge how their health is progressing.
  • Cues that alert patients that they need to take health-related action.

People engage in health behaviors every day — not just during clinical visits. They attend not only to clinical signs and symptoms of illness (e.g., blood pressure, shortness of breath), but also to the idiosyncratic thoughts, feelings, behaviors, sensations and environmental conditions that inform them about their health state. ODLs may vary according to individual preferences, lifestyle and health conditions.

These observations can also be useful to clinicians, for whom a richer picture of a patient’s experience can yield insights that lead to new treatment plans. Both patients and clinicians benefit from systems that incorporate ODL data and other forms of patient-generated data.

Project HealthDesign and ODLs

We began to notice the concept of ODLs and use the term "observations of daily living" as we worked with the nine Round 1 Project HealthDesign teams. The five Round 2 teams then explored practical ways to capture ODL data and integrate it into clinical care. ODLs help to provide patients and clinicians a broader picture of the patient’s day-to-day health and help equip clinicians for case management, as well as for richer conversations during clinical visits.

Learn more about ODLs:

Project HealthDesign is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation