When is it okay for everything to be about – well, ME! I don’t mean to sound egocentric but we all know that sometimes, it’s important to be focused on oneself, particularly when it comes to your health and well-being. But can you focus too much on your own health? Not according to a gentleman by the name of Chris Dancy. Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Dancy (Ladies, it’s Dancy and not Mr. Darcy) who refers to himself as a “Citizen Scientist”. Essentially, Chris monitors and collects data on himself (and his pets!) and uses it to improve everything from his mood to his posture and ultimately his health.
So how exactly does Chris collect this data? He uses all sorts of devices to track his heart rate, his sleep and calorie burn. He wears those Google glasses that look like a part left over from a cyborg movie. And I wasn’t kidding about the posture. Chris wears a device around his waist that buzzes him when his posture is not good. If he sits longer than 30 minutes, again the device buzzes and continues until he gets up and moves around. Unfortunately, Chris was unable to share how effective the device is for getting a person off the couch on play-off weekend. Chris also literally has delved under the surface and had his DNA mapped. Apparently, you can attach your DNA to musical notes and create a personalized song. Good news for someone like me who can’t carry a tune.
In all seriousness, Chris was a fascinating speaker, sharing some of the latest devices, and websites, where an individual can start to track personal information to use real time to improve health. Chris has spent a great deal of time pulling together his own ecosystem over the last few years but it is apparent that connectivity among a variety of health companies is on the rise. Chris’s point is that, when equipped with the right information through the right delivery channel at the right time, coupled with the ability to co-create, many consumers will become more interested in their health. Each component of the above statement is important. The right information implies that the information is personalized, meaningful and useful to me. Simply sending someone a reminder about a flu shot is minimally useful, but not necessarily meaningful if the recipient doesn’t understand why the shot is helpful to them. The right delivery channel is also important. There’s a reason the US Post Office has less mail to deliver – most people ignore unsolicited mail assuming it is a marketing gimmick. Snail mail is not useful in gaining most people’s attention, at least around improving their health. E-mail isn’t much better, because we are inundated with work and personal e-mails. But the phone, via a text message or alert is typically a great way to get someone’s attention. If we deliver the information on the flu shot via a text message, now we’re getting somewhere. That’s still not enough.
The right time is also critical. Delivering the flu shot message during the summer when a flu outbreak is a distant memory is not going to get the individual’s attention. Delivering the message during the height of the flu season and using the phone’s GPS to show the individual the nearest facility providing flu shots with the hours of operation, now provides the individual not only useful information, it also provides actionable information. Finally, I referenced the term co-creation. Chris Dancy co-created his ecosystem by collecting, connecting and then using the information to improve his health.
If we want individuals to engage in their health, they have to be allowed to drive their experience. Often, we talk about participation and engagement when we really mean that an individual has completed a task such as taking a health assessment or obtaining a biometric screening. These steps are important but are ‘once and done’ activities. Chris has been successful at incorporating his data collection activities into his daily life. The data he collects allows him to adjust his environment in a way that betters his health and well-being.
So what’s the outcome of becoming a “Citizen Scientist”? Using data and information to create meaningful changes results in better health and lower costs for all parties in the healthcare system. And for Chris – he lost 100 pounds in a year. And Darling…you look fabulous!
Speak loudly, step boldly!
Image courtesy of Chrisdancy.comJanuary 16th, 2014 4:58pm chris dancy Beth Bierbower quantified self citizen scientist