Will the Quantified Self Movement Take Off in Health Care?

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Lord Kelvin

“Asking science to explain life and vital matters is equivalent to asking a grammarian to explain poetry.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Of course the quantified self movement with its self-tracking, body hacking, and data-driven life started in San Francisco when Gary Wolf started the “Quantified Self” blog in 2007. By 2012, there were regular meetings in 50 cities and a European and American conference. Most of us do not keep track of our moods, our blood pressure, how many drinks we have, or our sleep patterns every day. Most of us probably prefer the Taleb to the Lord Kelvin quotation when it comes to living our daily lives. And yet there are an increasing number of early adopters who are dedicated members of the quantified self movement.

“They are an eclectic mix of early adopters, fitness freaks, technology evangelists, personal-development junkies, hackers, and patients suffering from a wide variety of health problems. What they share is a belief that gathering and analysing data about their everyday activities can help them improve their lives.”


According to Wolf four technologic advances made the quantified self movement possible:

“First, electronic sensors got smaller and better. Second, people started carrying powerful computing devices, typically disguised as mobile phones. Third, social media made it seem normal to share everything. And fourth, we began to get an inkling of the rise of a global superintelligence known as the cloud.”

An investment banker who had trouble falling asleep worried that his concentration level at work was suffering. Using a headband manufactured by Zeo, he monitored his sleep quantity and quality, and he also recorded data about his diet, supplements, exercise, and alcohol consumption. By adjusting his alcohol intake and taking magnesium supplements, he has increased his sleeping by an hour and a half from the start of the experiment.

A California teacher used CureTogether, an online health website, to study her insomnia and found that tryptophan improved both her sleep and concentration. As an experiment, she stopped the tryptophan and continued to sleep well, but her ability to concentrate suffered. The teacher discovered a way to increase her concentration while curing her insomnia. Her experience illustrates a phenomenon that Wolf has noticed: “For many self-trackers, the goal is unknown…they believe their numbers hold secrets that they can’t afford to ignore, including answers to questions they have not yet thought to ask.”

Employers are becoming interested in this approach in connection with their company sponsored wellness programs. Suggested experiments include using the Jawbone UP wristband to see if different amounts of sleep affect work performance such as sales or using the HeartMath emWave2 to monitor pulse rates for determining what parts of the workday are most stressful.

Stephen Wolfram recently wrote a blog illustrating just how extensive these personal analytics experiments in self-awareness could become when coupled with sophisticated technologies. Wolfram shares graphs of his “third of a million emails I’ve sent since 1989” and his more than 100 million keystrokes he has typed.

Anyone interested in understanding just how far reaching this approach may become in the future should examine the 23 pages of projects being conducted by the MIT Media Center. My favorites from this fascinating list include automatic stress recognition in real-life settings where call center employees were monitored for one week of their regular work; an emotional-social intelligence toolkit to help autism patients learn about nonverbal communication in a natural, social context by wearing affective technologies; and mobile health interventions for drug addiction and PTSD where wearable, wireless biosensors detect specific physiological states and then perform automatic interventions in the form of text/images plus sound files and social networking elements.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of all this new technology and to start crafting sentences about how the quantified self movement will “transform” and “revolutionize” health care and spawn wildly successful new technology companies.

Jackie Fenn’s “hype cycle” concept has identified the common pattern of enthusiasm for a new technology that leads to the Peak of Inflated Expectations, disappointment that results in the Trough of Disillusionment and gradual success over time that concludes in the Slope of Enlightenment and the Plateau of Productivity. Fenn’s book, Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time can help all of us realize that not all new technologies becomes killer applications.

Jay Parkinson, MD has also written a blog that made me pause before rushing out to invest in quantified self companies or predict the widespread adoption of this approach by all patients. Parkinson divides patients into three groups. The first group is the young, active person who defines health as “not having to think about it until they get sick or hurt themselves.” The second group is the newly diagnosed patient with a chronic illness that will affect the rest of their lives. After a six month period of time coming to terms with their illness, Parkinson believes this group moves closer and closer to group one who do not have to think about their disease. The third group are the chronically ill who have to think about their disability every day. Parkinson concludes that “it’s almost impossible to build a viable social media business that focuses on health. It’s the wrong tool for the problem at hand.”

The quantified self movement should be closely monitored by all interested in the future of the American health care delivery system. The potential to improve the life of patients with chronic diseases is clearly apparent; whether most people will use the increasingly sophisticated tools being developed is open to debate.

Kent Bottles, MD, is past-Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Iowa Health System (a $2 billionhealth care organization with 23 hospitals). He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of a large education and research organization in Michigan prior to his work with in Iowa with IHS. Kent posts frequently at his blog, Kent Bottles Private Views.

79 replies »

  1. When some one searches for his vital thing, therefore he/she wants to be
    available that in detail, so that thing is
    maintained over here.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

  2. This antiseptic mouthwash helps in destroying fungus and reduces the risk of fungus.

    You are able to that youll continue to notice results within a week of
    normal soaking in such solution. There are
    certain signs and symptoms that will warn you of toenail fungus.

  3. Simply want to say yokur article is as astounding. The clearness
    in yur post is simpply col and i can assume you’re
    an expert oon this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed
    to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thawnks a million annd
    pleae keep up the rewarding work.

  4. The future projections are presented for the base case, conservative case and aggressive
    case scenario providing an insight on the prospects in the
    industry. Let us take phone more descriptive portions of precisely what this technique can be and exactly what the pros and cons tend to be.

    Finance is based on the few standard formulas & the strategies.

  5. Superb website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this
    article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I
    can get feed-back from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

  6. Be sure that blue diamond plumbing you’re home is protected.
    In the first few years of learning due to the dangers inherent in faulty electrical
    work causes fire which can result in smoking wires and short outs in appliances or light fixtures.
    He should also check if any of you appliances blue diamond plumbing is frayed or singed.

    Because of the various tasks allocated to them, and all the latest information on it.

  7. Of course, there is plenty of inaccurate information that
    can result from lack of following the basics of math,
    science, electronics and even mechanical drawing to safely sail through your apprenticeship gforce-electric years.
    Since you will be set for a prolonged wait. You can tell them that when they want to ensure that you’ll get the vital certification and education.

  8. I think this is one of the so much important info for me. And
    i am happy reading your article. However want to
    statement on few basic issues, The web site style is great, the articles is
    in reality great : D. Good job, cheers

  9. Unquestionably consider that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to
    be at the internet the easiest thing to take into account of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think
    about concerns that they just do not realize about. You managed to hit the nail
    upon the highest and defined out the whole thing
    with no need side effect , people could take a signal.
    Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  10. Many companies around the world have built their sites with the
    assistance of SEO companies
    and consultants, however, there are also a lot out there who prefer to optimize their sites themselves.
    • You can install the desired type of intercom system which can either be hard-wired or wireless system.
    But with WordPress, you can easily handle your website and
    help make it internet search engine friendly.

  11. Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your web site,
    how could i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided brilliant clear idea

  12. One example of this is the growing demand for gym memberships and even ‘Personal Fitness
    Trainers. Number five way, treat baby acne naturally – Make sure
    your buying the right perfume free detergents as baby’s skin is very sensitive to
    this and other perfumes. This is the kind
    of photography that you have to capture in a little time span.

  13. Simply want to say your article is as astounding.
    The clarity on your publish is just great and that i could suppose you are an expert on this subject.
    Well along with your permission allow me to snatch your feed to stay updated with coming
    near near post. Thank you 1,000,000 and please continue the enjoyable work.

  14. It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this
    piece of writing as well as from our argument made at this place.

  15. Wonderul goods from you, man. I’ve understand your
    stuff previous to and you arre just too magnificent. I really lime what you’ve acquhired here, certainly like what
    you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep itt sensible.
    I can not wait to read muych more from you. This is realply
    a great web site.

    my page; anytime fitness spokane cost

  16. Although most racing games for PC are developed to the
    Windows operating system many game developers will work on racing games which can be works
    with operation systems like Mac or Linux. Racing games for youngsters are beneficial past
    time for kids but as being a parent continually guide your little ones.
    The free racing games have an assortment that also includes boat
    racing, car racing, Ferrari speed racing, bike racing,
    and helicopter racing, canyon race, ice rider to mention a
    few. The game was introduced by Nintendo and was later taken up
    the house systems too. Some are only a sheer total waste of time and embarrassment for the
    developers. And case there couldn’t why racing
    games are invented. You could also join virtual races and take part in action driving
    games this involve other items such as shooting enemies
    and more. The Xbox 360 racing games are certainly one of the sort since it combines all
    the pieces about real life racing. For those who find themselves hard-core fans
    of Moto GP, purchasing a Moto GP title is the
    best action to take because managing your motorcycle is very comparable to that with the
    real-life one. Just use the internet here, select a vehicle racing game and
    go as quickly as you desire in your Ferrari, Mercedes, or Aston Martin. After all,
    there are numerous free games on the market, which means you can obviously have fun with no to pay a
    dime. If we return in time somewhat, we can easily have a look at games like Toca Touring Car Championship which
    has been the first game I played on Play – Station One, long ago in 1999, back then the guys at Codemasters realized developing a racing game which is not only all to easy to learn, but in addition contains the extra goodies that can turn you
    into a specialist, was important to creating a successful racing game.
    The game features 6 game modes – quick race, career mode, time trial,
    online league, local on the web and online multiplayer game mode.
    Younger kids may enjoy the thrilling excitment of speed while learning racing strategies on the same time too,
    nevertheless for teenagers it helps if they are actually
    for the road and discover ways to avoid any oncoming
    traffic or mishaps. With a tutorial type
    school of motoring helped newcomers become eccentric
    elitists once Forza and Race Pro graced shops. There are many gaming sites inside the
    internet common example being Shockwave and Motor Arcade.
    The User of i – Phone can access travel related information while on a trip,
    weather related information and sports updates.
    She obviously overtook him too; she had a great deal gas left in their still, her
    jockey believed. Online betting can be a favorite pastime along with a way
    to obtain excitement for most people everywhere in the world.
    In multiplayer mode this racing game could be played by four players
    on the most and they also can only race or freestyle.

    Street racing games are particularly attracting youngsters simply because they permit
    the player to execute car tricks that defy the laws
    of physics without risking any injury. Then be it the Dubai World Cup
    or Breeder’s Championship, no race is intangible
    for you. It is all about speed and winning races without jeopardizing your life.
    I got some game like Action Game, Free games, Dress up games from
    kingofgames. Rather, you arrange races and upgrade cars
    to get the very best results, hiring other online players along the way.

  17. The best way to do a test it to mix the henna or hendigo (henna
    and indigo) that you think will work for your hair and try it on hair from
    your hair brush. Lastly, there are Thin-to-Thick,
    Damage-Control and Dandruff products. First of all, deciding to go gray is a
    very bold decision. For the best at home hair dye you
    need something that’s personally tailored to you. Clip on hair extensions are
    the most convenient and versatile to use since you
    yourself can just clip them on and off.

  18. For a tiny fee the ships will need you from one region to the next
    so that you can get across the water to another town. If an actor can disarm the
    Inner Critic of their power after a performance, she’s got the ability to disarm the
    identical Inner Critic in their personal life. If you want
    to create your individual designs though, you can make this as
    a do it yourself process. However, die-hard fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise
    will definitely love to play this game. You must
    start your research about dance schools while you.

  19. And the most recognized reason behind these people loving
    this item is comfort. Developer Relic Entertainment didn’t
    lie, single player fanatics can skip farmville, but multiplayer gamers an internet-based lovers should check this title
    out. The Ancient Order of Druids was revived
    in 1781 in London and it’s also fascinating that Sir Winston Churchill was initiated in to the Albion Lodge in 1908.
    This is responsible for some complaints with some individuals; either due towards the relative insufficient playable factions in comparison with other
    games in the genre or even the logical omission of old favorites
    from single-player and multiplayer. Secondly I will argue the point that
    might be to much wireless radiation is not beneficial to your overall
    health and wellness and is also it to force a entire continent to this
    potential danger with out a individual choice. When we identify using the image, we’re feeling compelled
    to defend it. Infantry losses are automatically replaced
    anywhere for the battlefield after a minute approximately of
    non-hostile interactions. No appear it is you must clearly define it and if it helps consider using a title for that specific event.
    Researchers with the Mayo Clinic who studied the healthiness of patients over 30 years, found the optimists decreased their chance of
    early death by 50 per cent. The honor system allowed players
    to compete for the top ranking of Grand Marshal or
    High Warlord. 91% of Americans claim that they can have a very favourite t shirt.
    If you are being forced to Find a Person Canada and want some guidance to
    start out your search then just Click Here. H Macy failed 7 times, before his store in New York caught on. Many times you’ll have to be satisfied with expensive satellite tv for
    pc or over a rare occasion, local TV stations broadcasting french content.
    n has taken part within the film 45 and possesses had the privilege of working together with prestigious musicians from different genres, such as Angel
    “cachet” Maldonado and Gilberto Santa Rosa. So losing just one infantry
    squad may be a huge blow for a military power. The thing about vision can it be needs to be
    renewed every day. Upon his return to Nha Trang SFC Baier requested permission to alter his MOS from medical to Operations and Intelligence.

    They certainly wouldn’t want competitors or hackers understanding their personal finances and
    business plans. ) Since ego will not understand why, it believes only love seduced from an outside source has value, it twists what it’s all about until it feels
    right to itself. All game news on Examiner may
    be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.
    Majesty 2 is a fantastic game that provides a twist on the real-time
    strategy genre. “Obstacles are the ones frightful things you see when you take your. So it would be nice if there is additionally a strategy to go online and watch Hulu in France too. In The Fox and also the House, a red fox is orphaned and adopted by way of a Widow named Tweed.

  20. I’ve read several excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how so much effort you place to make
    any such excellent informative site.

  21. On a watch’s dial there are six alarm confirmation dots.
    Springtime activity works on the mainspring that’s high elasticity because exceptional
    substance Spron 510. Omega had supplied the two British and American troops with designer watches in World War I.
    Giving her a really marketing makes are generally Casio,
    citizen, Rolex together with Swiss. In 1678, Henricus Jones created a timepiece with the expanding and contracting
    minute hand.

  22. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is valuable and all.
    But think of if you added some great graphics or videos
    to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content
    is excellent but with images and clips, this site could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its field.
    Awesome blog!

    Visit my blog: Diet tips App

  23. May I simply just say what a relief to discover a person that really understands what
    they’re talking about on the internet. You certainly understand
    how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people should read
    this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular
    because you definitely have the gift.

  24. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your
    website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    my web blog :: weight loss

  25. Hey terrific blog! Does running a blog such as this take a large amount of work?
    I’ve absolutely no expertise in computer programming but I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have
    any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic nevertheless I simply needed to ask.
    Thanks a lot!

    Also visit my webpage site, Nigel,

  26. Hi there, its good paragraph on the topic of media print, we all be
    aware of media is a great source of facts.

    Also visit my blog post: webpage (Debbie)

  27. On a watch’s dial there are six alarm confirmation dots.
    The arrangement in the gear train is determined by the amount
    of torque being transmitted, the orientation with the input along with the output shafts, and also the
    size in the gear box. But traditionally, it also has a stopwatch
    function, often called a chronograph, a higher falutin’ word that simply means ‘interval timer.
    Three rows of shimmering white diamonds illuminate the bezel and complement the
    white or black mother-of-pearl dial and silver-tone luminous index markers.
    Portable and Multifunctional Watch Design Wrist Power Charger Battery.

  28. Mention the word free-to-play, and the same PC gamer
    might recoil from his PC like he was hit by lightning.
    Now mostly parents want a cute and small first name for their baby boy or baby girl because old
    trend of using big or rash first names have been declined over a period of
    time. city is a wireless and radiotelephone phone mating that has a line amount pledged to
    it. A lovely reciprocal baby blooming headband will always make any lovable baby girl sometimes cuter.
    The game centers around the collection of different colored
    cards, each with a very cute chameleon on it.

    My site: free cute anime girls pictures

  29. Pretty element of content. I just stumbled upon your website and
    in accession capital to say that I acquire actually loved account your weblog posts.

    Anyway I’ll be subscribing for your augment and even I achievement you access constantly fast.

  30. Jusst desire to say your article is as astounding.
    The clarity in your post is simply excellent annd i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

    My web-site … gifts for childrens (kasipo.com)

  31. For most recent newss you have tto visit world-wide-web and on the web
    I found this site as a best site for most recent updates.

    My web site; five weight loss (Melaine)

  32. May I just say what a relief to find somebody that
    actually understands what they are talking about over the internet.
    You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and
    make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and
    understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.

  33. Galaxyman, hero of Galactic Quest comic shop,
    where I get all of my comic needs taken care of, chose the
    following as this week’s hottest books for the week of November 10, 2010:.
    Mathews repeatedly claims maybe it’s the combination of the two that are
    to blame. t expecting any payback, but then again, that was the Hollywood version.

    My web blog Bubble Witch Saga 2 Hack

  34. Hi, I think yyour site might be having browser coompatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Opera, itt looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heds
    up! Other then that, amazing blog!

  35. Hi there fantastic website! Does running a blog similar to this require a large amount of work?
    I’ve very little expertise in computer programming however I was hoping to start my own blog in the
    near future. Anyway, should you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog
    owners please share. I know this is off topic however I just needed to ask.

    Thank you!

    my web-site … window world complaints

  36. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks
    of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any methods to
    protect against hackers?

    My web blog q powerline

  37. Hi there! I just want to offer you a big thumbs up for the excellent
    information you have right here on this post.
    I am returning to your blog for more soon.

  38. Awesome website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same
    topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get
    feed-back from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!

    Look into my web blog :: bail agent license

  39. When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments
    are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is
    added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service?
    Thank you!

    Review my page … anti aging secrets; http://www.youtube.com,

  40. However, many bloggers actually overlook one of the most important aspects of their blog,
    this being the actual look and design of their blog.
    As people decide they want to write their thoughts for the
    world to see, it becomes obvious that not everyone is cut out to be
    a blogger. The widget options might be too overwhelming for beginners.

    Also visit my webpage website, Darrell,

  41. These personal analytics experiments are clearly not randomized clinical trials that attempt to eliminate all bias, and so they are not as scientifically sound as clinical trials. It is always hard to differentiate between correlation and causation even when does a double-blind clinical trial. On the other hand, Gary Wolf in the New York Times Magazine article interviews Seth Roberts, an emeritus professor of psychology at Berkeley and an expert on self-experimentation. “‘There is a large difference between what Barbier did and the minimal story of somebody who takes a pill looking for a certain effect and finds it…First, she wrote the numbers down, so the results are not subject to memory distortion. Second, she changed the conditions several times. Every switch is a test of her original theory.'” Barbier is the California teacher I mentioned in the blog post.

    I do not think the critical factor is financial incentive. I think what Parkinson was trying to write about is how lazy many of us are when it comes to health. We would just as soon not think about it at all.

  42. Kent,

    Is the issue at hand presently that these quantified self studies are done as a one-off by the individual and therefore are not validated through clinical trial studies? Clearly the future of mobile devices looks to be bright. Do you feel that the impetus for widespread adoption by thepublic lies in a lack of a motivator such as a financial one?

    If insurance companies began providing premium reductions to patients or employers that did self-quantify on some level (likely standardized) do you feel this would more likely lead to widespread adoption?