Thinking About Health Differently

Until a few weeks ago, I was unaware of the phrase “the quantified self.”  An NPR blog about the SXSW Interactive festival caught my eye and, as I scrolled through the entry, this paragraph stood out:

“No fewer than five panels at SXSW Interactive are focused on the "quantified self" movement, and what it means for culture and health. Technology has brought about a wave of interest in devices such as the FuelBand and Fit Bit — wearable sensor devices that allow users to track metrics like steps per day and heart rate. But more serious self-trackers are going beyond counting their steps. Up-and-coming tracking devices include blood glucose meters in your iPhone, and bras that can detect signs of breast cancer. "[Self-trackers] are incredible, disruptive pioneers in a space with long-standing consequences that will be able to help us find diseases and potentially save lives," said Lisa Kennedy, chief marketing officer for GE's Healthy Imagination initiative.”

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear futurist Bob Johansen expound on the breakdown of the traditional producer/consumer economy.  He believes the economy of the future will be based on reciprocity – giving things away from our abundance with the trust you’ll get back more in return. Information and ideas come from all directions and must be shared and learned from accordingly.  The quantified self movement seems to fit right in with his prediction.

There is widespread consensus that the U.S. health care system is broken.  These two trends give me hope that we can fix it  –  but the ideas will come in ways and from places that we might not expect.

Tim Dunbar is the director of finance and administration at CHI.