Quantified Health – It’s Just A Phase, Get Over It. Please.

Geoff McCleary at PSFK: “The near ubiquitous acceptance of smartphones and mobile internet access have ushered in a new wave of connected devices and smart objects that help us compile and track an unprecedented amount of previously unavailable data.
This quantification of self, which used to be the sole domain of fitness fanatics and professional athletes, is now being expanded out and applied to everything from how we drive and interface with our cars, to homes that adapt around us, to our daily interactions with others. But the most exciting application of this approach has to be the quantification of health – from how much time we spend on the couch, to how frequently a symptom flares up, even to how adherent we are with our medications.
But this new phase of quantified health is just that – it’s just a phase. How many steps a patient takes is a meaningless data point, unless the information means something to the patient. How many pills we take isn’t going to tell us if we are getting better.
Over time, we begin to see correlations between some of the data points and we can see that on the days a user takes their pill, they average 3,000 more steps, but that still doesn’t tell us what is getting better. We can see that when they get a pill reminder every day, that they will refill their prescription twice as much as other users.  As marketers, that information makes us happy, but does it make the patient any healthier? Can’t we both be happy?
We can pretty the data up with shiny infographics and widgets, but unless there is meaningful context to that data it is just a nicely organized set of data points. So, what will make a difference? What will get us out of the dark ages of quantified health and into the enlightened age of Personalized Health? What will need to change to get me the treatment I need because of who I am – on a genetic level?…
Our history, our future, our uniqueness and our sameness mean nothing if we cannot get this information on-demand, in real- time. This information has to be available when we need it (and when we don’t) on whatever screen is handy, in whatever setting we are in. Our physicians need access to our information and they need it in the context of how others have dealt with the same situation.
This access can only be enabled by a cloud-based, open health profile. As quantified self gave way to quantified health, quantified health must give way to Qualitative Health. This cloud based profile of our health past, present and future will need to be both quantified and qualitative.  Based not only on numbers and raw data, but relevance, context and meaning. Based not on a database or an app, but in the cloud where personal information will accessible by whomever we designate, our sameness open and shareable with all — with all contributing to the meaning of our data, and physicians interacting in an informed, consistent manner across our entire health being, instead of just the 20 minutes a year when they see us.
That is truly health care, and I cannot wait for it to get here.”