lunes, 18 de noviembre de 2013

Quantified self, Quantified communities

In the last two years, the people (like me) who spend part of their free time on their training shoes has experienced a revolution in their approach to their hobby. Thanks to the growing affordability of smartphones, we have said goodbye to excel files and we have migrated the registration of our personal running achievements to a mobile app. And the story has just began. It is estimated that the sport and fitness app market will be increase by 63 percent from 2012 to 2017, and probably the growth will be bigger thanks to innovations as the M7 processor included in the iPhone 5S.

There are dozens of them, but I suspect that the more open the application the bigger its customer base. At least, that is the reason why I chose to use  RunKeeper. The features of all of these sport apps are quite similar, but the big difference is its capability to be syncronized with other apps. Being able to connect and sharing information between your sport app and other apps for keeping control over other aspects of health (diet, sleep, cardio, ...), allow you to have a more holistic view of your wellness. In my case, I use for controlling my diet MyFitnessPal and a Polar H7 device for cardio.

But RunKeeper and others are only the herald of a new concept: The quantified personal health as a leverage for the wellness of the society. Its utility could go  beyond its usefulness to the runner community  It is needed to define interoperability guidelines between this apps and public sector eHealth applications. Without any doubt, our doctor will have a better picture of our health if we provide him data about our daily routines to be use in combination with medical analysis. But the benefits will reach the society as a whole. The quantification of individuals would be extremely helpful, for instance,  in medical research and development or for the understanding illness outbreaks and its evolution. To sum up, to move from quantified individuals to quantified communities, and this move is so disrupting that even it is floating the idea that Health Authorities should regulated its usage.

The empowerment behind sharing health information has been already discovered by many people. Some people call it Patient Generated Data  Sharing your health information is the first step for reaching a better knowledge of your illness, specially in the case of rare or serious illness.  Some communities like PatientsLikeMe have already got impressed numbers of members. Even some of this internet communities are not only patient-oriented, but also they have a section for professionals, as it is the case of Webcina. Socialization of health looks as an unstoppable movement.

What is more, it this communities are also benefitial for the society as a whole. In a period of tight budgets in the public sector, specially in health, it is helpful for the government budgets diverting part of the medical consultations outside the general practicioners. In a slow manner, we are moving from an eminence-based medicine model to a swarm-based medicine model. Patients give advice to other patients, second-opinions easily avalaible, reputation services with rankings of hospitals, .... the 2.0 culture has taken the health sector.

Besides this, all the user-generated information could help governments to plan more wisely the usage of resources in the health sector. But perhaps, for unleashing all this potential it would be needed across the world more government initiatives as "Blue Button" and interoperability between this initiatives and the apps mentioned above. It looks the industry has an eye on this sector, and there are begining to appear also different solutions for "Patient Portals".

From quantified-selfs, to quantified-countries. Once more, digitalisation changing our lives. Read all the things that would be possible if we unleash all the power of fitness and health data.

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