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Feb 08 2012

Future of Health Meeting at UCSD

Published by at 8:41 pm under Heath IT

Quantified Self/Future of Personal Health at UCSD

I attended a wonderful meeting at UCSD last night, hosted by the San Diego Quantified Self meetup group lead by Ernesto Ramirez, John Amschler, and Jun Axup.  Gary Wolf lead a panel discussion including Larry Smarr, Cal IT director, Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Institute for translational medicine, and Joe Smith, CMO and CSO of West Wireless Institute.

I’m intrigued with the Quantified Self movement – and use a FitBit pedometer, a Zeo sleep sensor, Withings WiFi scale and iPhone blood pressure monitor.  I’ve also done some interesting reflections on my daily schedule.  Looking back at my writings over the years, I realized that I rarely did anything creative outside the hours of 4 AM to noon, or 6 PM to 2 AM.  Afternoons were pretty much a wasteland, creatively.

I also did a look at my email  one new year’s eve, ranking the people I communicated with by their “aha!s” – the number of insightful thoughts I got from them.  I discover an inverse relationship: the most insightful folks were typically those with whom I communicated the least; and vice versa 🙁

I think of the QS movement as kind of an “early adopter” stage – akin to the early era of homebrew computers in the 70’s.  It’s very gadget-oriented, with lots of enthusiasm for how increased measurement can improve health.  I think that there is a lot to this, but measurement has to be converted to motivation.  The obesity epidemic is not due to a lack of bathroom scales.

Larry Smarr presented his ubergeek self-analysis, with some particularly interesting results from doing a recurring genomic analysis of his stool samples… that his intestinal flora took 3-4 years to recover from a dosage of antibiotics… and he floated a speculation that this metabolic disturbance could be a trigger for obesity… who knows?

Another audience participant was a competitive cycling athlete who used the Zeo sleep monitor to discover that his sleep quality was deteriorating during the months after winter.  He installed a water cooling pad to keep his bed at a constant temperature, and improved his sleep dramatically, leading to a new world record.

The star speaker of the night, however, was Eric Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine.  He made a resounding case for the need for personalization in health care.  This parallels my comments in a Senate hearing last year about the need to focus on personalization, not centralization, of medical care.

All in all, a very stimulating evening.  And perhaps the stars are aligning to bring together a critical mass of folks here in San Diego to make a big difference in the future of health care.  I hope to be part of it.

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