In the future, data we collect about our sleep and activity levels could be automatically sent to a medical professional or fitness trainer for analysis and feedback, providing a truly personalised health service informed by our own data.
More of us than ever before are embracing the wonders of wearable activity trackers to keep an eye on our fitness and sleep, with 28% of Americans using wearable trackers in the last year, however once we collect the data we aren’t always sure what to make of it.
Almost three quarters of wearables users share their collected data with others, and the majority would be prepared to pay to have the information analysed by a professional.
“Consumers are embracing personal connected health technologies but want more than just charts and graphs showing how many steps they’ve walked, calories they’ve consumed or hours of deep sleep they got last night,” said Dr Joseph Kvedar director of the Center for Connected Health, Partners HealthCare.
“They crave expert guidance, feedback on their personal health data and the knowledge that someone who cares is watching and encouraging their progress.”
With such interest in professional feedback, it is only a matter of time before companies begin capitalising on demand with subscription-based services.
Major players in the fitness tracker world, such as Fitbit and Misfit, could even provide a package as part of their associated apps.
Such a move would undoubtedly appeal to companies, as it would allow them to continue to make money off users long after they had purchased their tracker.
Feedback would also help to revert the drop in use most trackers see after they are initially purchased.
An Arizona State University study announced today found that smartphone apps improved people’s dietary monitoring, and a similar effect is likely to be achieved with feedback on wearables data.
“Sharing personal health data with others, be it a doctor or social network, helps consumers to stay motivated, engaged and on track to achieve their health and wellness goals,” explained Kvedar.
However, the quality of monitoring is likely to need improving if some data is to be of use to medical professionals.
Sleep professionals have warned that the information collected by activity trackers is inadequate to draw any meaningful medical conclusions from.
In an article in The Guardian, Dr Irshaad Ebrahim from the London Sleep Centre explained:
“They’re not measuring sleep, simply motion – not muscle tone, brain waves, heart rate or eye movement.”
“You cannot infer quality of sleep from motion and tell what is crucial REM [rapid eye movement] sleep and what is not.”
Images courtesy of Misfit Wearables.