I had not until this morning when I read a blog entry from Ted Eytan.

I am not the only one, since a Google search for ODL definition leads nowhere. But I am sure that this is a term we have to learn fast. ODL stands for Observations of Daily Life and seems to be a great term to define what may very well be the most important aspect of health-related social networking activities. It is fitting that we should get acquainted with this new term on the Pioneering Ideas blog of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Project HealthDesign has released a new e-primer that explores the importance of observations of daily living (ODL) in moving toward next-generation personal health records and health management. PHRs enable consumers and providers to incorporate routine health observations that go well beyond what data are captured at clinical visits. Some are more obvious than others – blood glucose readings for diabetics, did I take the right pills at the right time today – but others may play an equally important role in pursuing health goals and managing chronic health conditions.

Things like: Does my chronic pain spike when the temperature dips below a certain threshold? What effects might a particularly stressful month, with long hours at work and marginal sleep, have on my eating and activity behaviors, and hence my diabetes? Can the fact that a 17-year-old with a chronic illness is regularly self-reporting his or her mood to be bad or sad play a role in the self-management of his or her disease? And, if today’s pollen counts are really high, can my PHR device send me an alert in the morning to remember my inhaler, and then delete that point-in-time data capture because it may not be useful if conditions change tomorrow?

The ability to seamlessly capture such observations and show trends over time could add immense value for patients, who are looking to make the smartest decisions that will enable them to feel and function their best on a day-to-day basis. And it might reveal important patterns to their health care providers, who rarely get a glimpse in to the potential impact that poor sleep, high stress or signs of depression can have on health outcomes over time.

We have been stumped for too many years to explain what are some of the activities taking place on the active ACOR eCommunities. Reports of ODL is really what is taking place and conversations that evolve from these minute ODL reports have generated big changes for many of the communities susbcribers, including for example patient-generated research about drug dosage and chronotherapy. So my hat to the RWJF’s funded Project HealthDesign and their wonderful ODL & PHR Primer

Many times, here and on other blogs, we comment about the need to include patient-generated reports when discussing medical cases with physicians. We all know that this idea runs contrary to the medical education received by all MDs because thee data has not gone through “expert peer” reviewers. The serious studies funded by Project HealthDesign may very well become the most important resources needed to change the mindset of the majority of doctors.

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