Go Go Health Gadgets; achieving the quantified self

June 23, 2011

My day job involves supporting observational studies on retrospective data sources.  We try to monitor what is happening in the healthcare industry at a very macro level using various sources of health information, with varying degrees of reliability and of course, success.  The data sources available come from third parites and have significant limitations; but they are what we have to work with today.  I gave a talk not so long ago at Rutgers University that touched on privacy issues regarding these sources of health information and many people voiced their concerns regarding the confidentiality of their health information, rightfully so.  I just wish people were as passionate about collecting their health information as they were about the privacy of it.

Today few people have a personal health record in any form, let alone electronic.  To me that is really disappointing because given the good work we are able to do to improve the human condition through the analysis of broad, limited data sets I can only imagine the potential benefits from complete, personal health information.  Personally, I've started doing what I can to get more involved with my own health and the health of my family.  I'm now the proud owner of a FitBit and Withings Scale.  The FitBit tracks my daily activity levels and nightly sleep schedule while the Withings scale monitors my weight, lean mass and fat mass.  My next purchase will likely be the Polar heart rate monitor for when I exercise (because FitBit is telling me that I need to do more of that...).  The great thing about each of these products is that they sync wirelessly through a computer and upload the information into their own respective analysis tools as well as a personal health record like Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault.  Its really just the tip of the iceburg in terms of personal monitoring.  I've embedded a TEDTalk below that was given by Daniel Kraft in April, 2011 in which he goes in depth on just how far and how fast the landscape for health information and its use will likely change.

Once your done watching Daniel's talk and are inspired to start getting more involved with your health, hit up the links below to get your gadgets. Since, you know, we all like gadgets.

After you're done shopping I encourage you to check out Technology Review to get sneak peek at a future device that has shows a lot of promise and an emerging conference dedicated to those who are trying to live the measured life and acheive a quantified self.

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About the author

Frank DeFalco has worked as software developer and informatics professional since 1996.  He is currently employed by Johnson & Johnson where he manages the Health Informatics Center of Excellence.


Reach me via email at frank (at) thedefalcos (dot) com.


Follow me on twitter @fjdefalco