Just what is Quantified Self anyway?
The Quantified Self movement unites people who are interested in measuring different aspects of their lives to learn more about themselves or their behaviors. Self quantification can range from the practical, like tracking one’s monthly expenditures, to the obscure, like measuring the impact of one-legged standing on sleep. While the Quantified Self movement began predominantly as the domain of data geeks, inventors, and entrepreneurs, there are signs that it is starting to go mainstream, particularly in the realm of healthcare.
Quantified Self and health
As more tools are become available to measure and track aspects of our health, like diet, activity levels, and blood-pressure, self-quantifiers are increasingly measuring aspects of their health to find correlations between them. These trends are exciting because this puts data in the hands of the individual, enabling that person to take a more engaged role in his or her health. For many chronic conditions, self-awareness and self-management are keys to gaining control.
What has Ubiqi Health learned?
My venture, Ubiqi Health, helps people take control of their health by providing easy-to-use tools for managing their chronic conditions. Our first application allows migraine sufferers track their headache frequency, duration, and severity, along with any treatments or suspected triggers. When we started, we knew that many migraine sufferers were trying to figure out what triggered their headaches and whether their medications were having any impact, even to the extent of creating spreadsheets to do so. To address this, we wanted to provide people with an easy way to track their migraines on their mobile phones.
Since our Migraine Tracker launched publicly about one year ago, we’ve had our users tell us that they’ve benefited through self-tracking by:
- Being able to identify their triggers (for example, dairy products). Accordingly, they have modified their lifestyles and were able to reduce the frequency of their migraines.
- Being able to have a more informed dialog with their physicians. By sharing their reports, their doctors have been enabled to optimize their treatment plans.
- Feeling more in control of their condition simply through the action of tracking and seeking to understand patterns
Crowd-sourcing health data
While we’re pleased that we’ve been able to help our users on an individual basis, we see that there’s big potential to leverage the aggregated data from all of our users to gain insights that can help the migraine community at large and also contribute to scientific research.
To date, with data collected from our installed user base of over 8,000 migraine sufferers, we’ve indexed over 200 different triggers that people are tracking. We now have the ability to feed this information back to the community to help our users learn from seeing what triggers are affecting others. But this is just the beginning – as our database grows, we may be able to derive insights on how different treatments and triggers impact specific populations in ways that couldn’t be done in a structured clinical trial. What is perhaps most intriguing about Quantified Self is how data collected by individuals can be used in aggregate to form a sort of “crowd-sourced wisdom” about our bodies and our health.
Jacqueline Thong is the co-founder and CEO of Ubiqi Health. Prior to starting Ubiqi Health, Jacqueline implemented patient data collection systems for pharmaceutical clinical trials. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Jacqueline is now based in Boston, MA. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce with specializations in Marketing and Information Systems from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from INSEAD. Jacqueline enjoys the outdoors and is an avid alpine skier. Jacqueline can be followed on Twitter: @jacthong