Future = ‘Quantified self’ apps + personal coaching

example of Bodymedia

What about the apps that try to guide you to a healthy life style? They collect a huge amount of data with an armband linked to a smartphone or computer. These so-called ‘quantified self’ apps monitor the calories you consumed, the quality of your sleep, the calories you burned, kilometres you ran, … Well-known examples are Bodymedia (http://www.bodymedia.com) or Lark (http://lark.com/)

Are they just nice-to-have gadgets or can they really be useful in you personal health-management? The Belgian investigator Christel De Maeyer made an interesting study on this ‘qualified self’ tools. Christel lives in Belgium (Gent), but works also at the Stanford University (California).

In 2012 Christel followed people in Belgium and San Francisco who used the Bodymedia armband. You can check the results of her study on her site: www.sleepingwithtechnology.com.

Some interesting conclusions for us:

  • Participants stopped using their Bodymedia when the study was ended. So, there was no routine established to continue monitoring, or there was no need to continue.
  • There has to be a need for this monitoring. Otherwise, the burden is to high compared to the benefit.
  • Devices have to be easy to use.
  • Participants said that the personal phone calls Christel had with them were very important. With other words: Just an automated program that translates the mass of data is often not enough. The personal counselling/coaching has a added value.
  • The ‘quantified self’ tools can be useful. But probably not for all patients/clients. Once more: sub-typing is the future.