Blog | Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quantified selves


Are you a data junkie?

Do you feel compelled to record your vitals, throughout the day, during workouts, or while you sleep?

Have you ever tried a calorie counting app to see what you really eat in a day?

If you own a smart phone, you are now able to do all of these things as never before.

A growing movement known as Quantified Self is putting people more in charge of their data and their health. NPR ran a great story on QS (embedded below). Some of the more popular apps were featured and some devoted QS'ers were interviewed.

As a doctor, I welcome people's engagement with their health. Anything that gives people a sense of control over their lives (and their "well-being") can't be bad.

Yet I do want people to keep these tools in perspective. You may find, like I do, that some of the subjects of the story are a bit, er, obsessive. And if you look at the comments, you'll see there are many skeptics, who express doubts that these modern tools will help Americans change their unhealthy habits, arguing that those motivated enough to quantify themselves are likely to be healthy types in the first place.

Know any good tracking apps? Share them with us.



This post by John H. Schumann, MD, FACP, originally appeared at GlassHospital. Dr. Schumann is a general internist. His blog, GlassHospital, seeks to bring transparency to medical practice and to improve the patient experience.