Digital Health Insights 1/2015

Who am I in numbers? It is possible to measure and track all kinds of data. But what data gives us an insight to our health status? What kind of data is relevant for doctors and insurance companies?

In this spring edition of the Digital Health Insights, we have invited founders and experts to discuss the medical relevance and urgency of data acquisition and analysis. Furthermore, true tracking champions share their stories of how a simple tool helps them deal with a chronic conditon every day. The benefits, they say, are not in digitising paperwork, but in finding new, individual solutions that integrate easily into their daily life.

For three weeks, I quantified myself, using the Withings Activité Pop. It comes in all kinds of colours, ranging from a neutral “wild sand” (the one I used, very elegant), to “bright azure”. I liked the stylish approach and I am a fan of smartwatches anyway, Every day I wear a wrist watch, but I do not carry my phone everywhere. So I am one of those people who prefer having a wearable to having your phone include all kinds of sensors and abilities. The Pop can potentially track activities such as walking, running and swimming, it monitors your sleep and it includes a vibrating alarm clock. It is connected to the Health Mate App via Bluetooth 4.0.

So far, so good. The first couple of days, the smartwatch felt too big, but I soon got used to that. If you share your bed with another person, the silent alarm is one of the greatest inventions for couple’s sanity. Unfortunately, I never figured out, how to turn it off, neither on the watch (I do not think that is possible), nor in the app. But it always stopped at some point and I should not complain about the watch’s intense enthusiasm to wake me up.

On a normal day, one should take around 10.000 steps to lead a healthy life. The watch indicates your progress with a small display, showing a clock-hand moving from 0% to 100% and resetting at midnight. If you hit a goal, for example more than 10.000 steps a day, you get rewarded with a badge in the app. These badges are neither truly beautiful, nor meaningful enough to show them off, but they made me prouder than I would want to admit.

I had no problem in reaching the goal of 10.000 steps even though I have an office job. However, I am sure that I had never met this goal before I was wearing the Pop. The tracker made me more aware of how sedentary my day is and I tried squeezing in some extra steps. I was no longer too tired to go for a walk, or too lazy to take the steps – I wanted to move to hit my goals. This awareness has stayed with me even after I have stopped using the Pop.

The Pop also helped discover why I never feel relaxed, no matter how long I sleep. Having the proof after every night, that my sleep pattern does not include long enough phases of deep sleep, motivated me to make some changes and care about my health. Before, I found many reasons why I could not sleep and tracking narrowed it down to an experiment. New blinds – one hour more of sleep; different cushion – half an hour less of sleep; relaxing music in the evening…and so on. It was fun to experiment and see immediate results. Results, which I did not feel yet, but that became apparent when I took a look at the app in the morning.

There is only one point of criticism: the clock was always off.

Download whole edition as PDF

John Nosta
Peter Ohnemus
Jennifer Smith
Matthew Deets
Ashley Ng