If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

For years we’ve heard this familiar business adage, attributed to either Peter Drucker or  W. Edward Deming. Reading today that 9 out of 10 Americans believe that they are in good health, made us think that perhaps not everyone is measuring and managing your health. Then we wondered whether measuring your health, in the kinds of  ‘quantified-self’ ways that guest-blogger Jacquie recently talked about, enables you to better manage your health?

9 out of 10 Americans say they are healthy

9 out of 10 Americans say they are healthy

First off, let’s start with the study. Americans were asked whether they thought they were healthy: 90% said yes. And yet, we know that people are moving less, eating more fat and sugar, and chronic diseases like diabetes are at an all time high. Perhaps the next question in the study should have been “how do you know you are healthy?” Let’s go back to the business analogy. Let’s say a CEO asked her CFO, are we profitable? If the CFO said yes, wouldn’t he be asked to provide some proof of that? In the same way, how can an individual actually know if they are healthy? What is their proof? And what are they measuring against?

To answer those questions, it does seem that you need to track something. As we’ve seen recently there are a myriad of new consumer devices measuring all kinds of things. One I’ve been using is Moves. If you’d asked me before I started using it whether I walked more than the average person, I would have said “yes, absolutely.” Now that Moves is tracking my every step (although it does get a bit confused when I’m snowboarding), I would have to say no, not really. So much for my subjective view of my habits.

Not enough steps

Not enough steps

Next, you have to compare your measurements to some sort of standard. FitBit and other activity trackers have popularized the idea that a healthy individual takes 10,000 steps. Taking that as a benchmark, I could feel good about all the days I took more than 10,000 steps. However, at the American Physical Therapy Conference in San Diego in January, we learned that 10,000 steps would put a person in the ‘active’ but not ‘highly active’ category. So, now you have a whole lot of people patting themselves on the back, but maybe they are not as active as they think.

We recently discovered a new startup called WellnessFX that would appeal to the quantified self people, and also make sure they are measuring the right things. WellnessFX enables you to have your blood tested for a number of different criteria, see your results online, discuss the results with a healthcare professional, and then determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your health. Kind of brings it all together doesn’t it?

At Wellpepper, we’re not going to draw your blood, but we are going to try to connect you, your healthcare professional, and your positive health outcomes by tracking and measuring. We’ll remind you to do your exercise and ask you what you did. We’ll also let your physical therapist know if you reviewed your exercises. Yes, some of it is based on self-reporting like the study, but you wouldn’t lie to us or your healthcare professional would you?

Posted in: Healthcare motivation, Healthcare Technology, Uncategorized

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