Growth of Quantified Self, Part 4: The Future of Health Design

The growth of the Quantified Self movement demonstrates how health IT can begin to merge patient-generated health information with provider expertise to create new models of health design, facilitate better decision-making, and improve lives.

Tracking Data Across All Trackers and Devices


More than five years ago – before the technology that exists today, and way before the proliferation of tracking devices and iOS apps – Martin Blinder, founder of what would become TicTrac, had a vision for a platform that would be able to track all aspects of our lives. The goal, however, was about more than just bringing a slew of tracking devices together. (TicTrac now has more than 500 trackers.)

We thought that the real value from a platform is more about the personal insight that all that data in one place can give you –– by being able to let people cross-reference different data sets, and enable them to identify the different aspects in their lives that might be affecting each other. – Martin Blinder, Founder, TicTrac

Blinder explains they were lucky to experiment with the tracking space early on, trying many things, and learning from mistakes. Now, TicTrac is poised to take advantage of the explosion of the Quantified Self movement, and help shape the future, with a platform that enables health seekers, doctors, and other lifestyle coaches to custom design health “projects” for tracking across all devices.

We’ve built a reputation of being somewhat of a meta-layer across all these different apps and devices, partnering with these different companies that may have a fantastic app or device, and enabling users to use those services to track and log their data, but sync those services into TicTrac, where they can aggregate all that disparate data from dozens of different accounts, and organize that information into personal dashboards.”

The goal is to make data actionable, and Blinder says you can only do that if you provide context to the data, “The notion of context was a driving force of our whole user experience which is designed around the fact that we live life designed around little projects – losing ten pounds, managing my migraines, running my first 10K, raising my first kid.”

TicTrac gives users the ability to select from a set of predefined projects already laid out with different trackers in a particular context, or to design their own. They hope in the future, more providers and health “coaches” will design projects for patients and clients.

Get more insights from my interview with Martin Blinder about TicTrac and the future of Quantified Self here.

Project Health Design

Project Health Design is a national program by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working on tools to bridge patient experience and provider expertise. The vision is for improved health decision-making using patient-generated health data (PGHD) for personal health records (PHRs) and the broader health ecosystem. Through “Observations of Daily Living” or ODLs, patients can contribute personally meaningful information to clinicians.

Project Health Design says ODLs can include:

  • Quantity and quality of sleep
  • Moods experienced in day-to-day life
  • The ease with which an individual completes daily tasks
  • Level of pain experienced throughout the day
  • Fluctuations in day-to-day stress

ODLs provide:

  • Subtle clues that individuals pay attention to as they monitor their health.
  • A way for patients to gauge how their health is progressing.
  • Cues that alert patients that they need to take health-related action.

A richer picture of a patient’s experience can yield insights that lead to new treatment plans.

A Standards-Based Model for PGHI

On July 18, 2013, Sujansky & Associates, LLC issued a report for Project Health Design that proposed a standards-based model for communicating data from patients’ personal health devices to providers’ EHRs. According to the report, technical elements are based on the features of personal health devices, health data repositories, and interoperability standards that already exist.

Project Health Design Standards-Based Model

Patient-generated health information (PGHI) may comprise clinical parameters already familiar to medical providers (such as blood-glucose measurements or pain-scale observations), as well as “Observations of Daily Living.” The model here applies to the sharing of both types of PGHI. – Sujansky & Associates, LLC

Last year, Project Health Design also studied safe-guarding patient-generated health information shared through mobile devices.

Will Patients Provide Data to Providers?

According to Pew Research, 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health. Recent privacy concerns may inhibit some patients from sharing data, even if useful.

Dr. Howard Luks, an early adopter of new technologies himself, says he is seeing pushback from about half of his patients at the moment about self-tracking. He has offered his Shine device to several patients to try. Although some were interested in the “cool device,” others lacked the “incentive to complete the circle.” “People don’t think of their health until they are unhealthy,” he says. Dr. Luks is interested in dashboards that can simplify data gathering, and anything that can make it seem like less work.

Due to the amount of information on this topic, look for more coverage on “The Future of the Quantified Self Movement and Self-Tracking” from Angela Dunn, including topics from the Quantified Self Global 2013 Conference in San Francisco next month. Find all the posts in the Quantified Self Series list here.

The following two tabs change content below.


HealthIsCool is a writer and trends analyst. She writes about health innovation, wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), new health technologies, and future trends. Her latest trends research includes: The Rise of Wearable Technology and Google's Ambitions in Healthcare. Follow on Twitter at @HealthIsCool.

Latest posts by HealthIsCool (see all)

, , , , , , , ,