It’s Time to Embrace the Quantified Self Movement

The "quantified self" movement continues to gain momentum despite resistance from some who lament how pervasive data-acquisition devices now are. Perhaps the potential for wearables to literally save lives will persuade some fence-sitters.

I recently read a fascinating story about a 42-year-old New Jersey man who showed up at an emergency room after suffering a seizure. Doctors opted to use electrical cardioversion to restore his heart rhythm after using his smartphone to look at heart rate data collected on his Fitbit.

But here's what's really interesting. When the patient arrived at the hospital, it wasn't clear if his arrhythmia was due to a chronic condition or the seizure he just suffered. The patient's Fitbit provided the data his doctors needed, however, leading them to conclude that the seizure triggered atrial fibrillation. This provided sufficient evidence that electrical cardioversion might work – and it did. Without the Fitbit data, the patient's outcome may have been totally different.

Quantified-self naysayers argue that people are becoming overly transfixed with data they gather about themselves. Which may be true, but it could also save your life. I, for one, will happily wear my Microsoft Band: you never know when and how it may come in handy...

Damon Auer is Vice President, Health and Life Sciences for Tribridge

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