Self-tracking is rapidly moving mainstream. As if to underscore this point, as I was flying to Las Vegas to deliver this presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition, I reached into the seat pocket in front of me and pulled out the ubiquitous SkyMall magazine. The cover featured a self-tracking pedometer type device, with text inviting readers to “Join the movement.”
It’s not just SkyMall that is highlighting self-tracking. The Economist and Oprah Magazine recently ran features on it. New gadgets, such as the Nike+ Fuelband, are joining old favorites, such as pedometers.
This talk is based on a version I delivered by invitation at the mHealth Networking Conference a year ago. Since then, there have been thousands of new apps and all sorts of nifty new sensors. Tracking communities are expanding and the resulting data are ushering in a new era of research design and biostatistics that will complement randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Opportunities for health professionals — as well as the rest of the tracking ecosystem — are rapidly expanding almost as fast as the apps. But there are also down sides. Prices for most tracking gadgets remain high, accuracy issues abound, there are communities for which tracking is unhealthy, and health literacy and numeracy are often overlooked.
When I asked the room full of health and fitness professionals to raise their hands if they tracked, almost everyone raised their hand. When I asked how many of them tracked at least one metric by old-fashioned paper and pencil, more than half of their hands remained raised. It’s a good reminder that at the end of the day, self-tracking is not about shiny gadgets or cool apps, but is simply about trying to capture information that will offer a narrative of part of your life.
Key resources cited in the presentation are listed below.
Examples of Tracking communities and organizations
Lists of tracking tools
Examples of Sensors
- Adidas adizero f50
- Jawbone Up
- Nike+ Fuelband
- Under Armour e39 shirt
Reports & publications
- Healthcare unwired: New business models delivering care anywhere. PricewaterhouseCoopers, September, 2010
- Boomers, technology & health: Consumers taking charge! MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest, January, 2011 (pdf)
- The future of connected health devices. Liberating the information seeker. IBM Global Business Services Executive Report, 2011
- Pew Internet reports
- The Social Life of Health Information, 2011, Susannah Fox, May, 2011
- Peer-to-peer healthcare, Susannah Fox, Feb, 2011
- Half of adult cell phone owners have apps on their phones, Kristen Purcell, Nov, 2011
- Innovations in health literacy research, workshop summary. Institute of Medicine, The National Academies Press, 2011
- Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)
- Abraham, WT, et al., Wireless pulmonary artery haemodynamic monitoring in chronic heart failure: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 377:658-666, 2011
- Wicks, P. et al. Accelerated clinical discovery using self-reported patient data collected online and a patient-matching algorithm. Nature Biotechnology, 29:411-414, 2011.
- Counting every moment. The Economist, Mar 3rd 2012 print edition
- Athlete Biological Passport, World Anti-Doping Agency
- Exercise is Medicine
- U. S. Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge
- Self-tracking meets ready-to-wear: Make room in your closet for smart clothes
- Self-tracking, Sensors, and mHealth: Trends and Opportunities
- Self-tracking: Checking under the hood
- mHealth: Health where you live, work, and play
- mHealth Summit 2010: A context check list
- Utilizing mobile technology and new media to encourage mobile lifestyles