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Quantified Self: Giving a Whole New Meaning to ‘Patient Engagement’

by Mike DiPierro, manager, growth operations

"If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker

According to a recent study from Pew Research, 70% of US adults track some indicator of health or activity. And while many of these are not measured digitally today, the recent explosion of popular, passive, health tracking devices (activity monitors, connected scales, blood glucose monitors, hundreds of smartphone apps…) lowers the hurdle for anyone interested in better understanding their own health. These trends have given rise to a movement dubbed the “Quantified Self.”

Quantified Self, or “QS,” encompasses dozens of threads, but one of the most important opens the dialogue between patient and care provider. Preventative care can often take simple forms. Living a healthier lifestyle or addressing chronic disease should not come in doses of post-physician-visit guilt or guidance. Off the shelf devices are beginning to drive down the personal cost of quantifying one’s heart rate, blood sugar levels, activity or food intake. The summarized data can, through personal health record (PHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) integration, enable meaningful alerts and conversations around trends with one’s physician. Physicians increasingly see value in this patient-driven data to remotely monitor key health metrics and, particularly for chronic disease, drive preventative care and adherence.

I first attended a QS event in 2010 alongside a small number of other like-minded early adopters. The topics ranged from improving medication adherence to getting more out of an early morning jog. The event was hosted by a device company here in the Boston area, and among those in attendance were behavioral economists, software developers and device makers. The thread which drew the group together was a common interest in improving lives, our own and others, through insight into the data points that make up our experiences. Over the past few years these events and the Quantified Self movement gained tremendous momentum. QS meetups now take place in over 100 cities on six continents and now athenahealth is joining in on the discussion.

Here at athenahealth we aim to make healthcare work as it should. Part of that mission connects engaged patients and providers in mutually beneficial ways. On August 28th, we’re proud to sponsor the next Boston Quantified Self meetup at our Watertown, MA headquarters. The evening’s theme, The Quantified Patient, aims to foster conversation around the importance of patient engagement and the ability of providers to extract meaningful, actionable information from device and self-reported data. This unique event will feature forward thinking entrepreneurs, researchers and companies who are redefining healthcare through the use of self-tracking systems, behavior change psychology, and human analytics.

Our panel of speakers includes:

  • Joseph Kvedar (@jkvedar)—Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, Partners HealthCare;
  • Alexandra Drane (@adrane)—Co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer, Eliza Corp.;
  • Anmol Madan, PhD (@anmol_madan)—Co-founder and CEO,;
  • Michael A M Davies (@michaelamdavies)—Senior Partner, Endeavour Partners;
  • and our very own Kyle Armbrester (@athenaMDP)—Vice President of Business Development, athenahealth and champion of our More Disruption Please program.

We look forward to being a part of the conversation and hope you can join us on August 28th! If you are a health professional, designer, tech inventor, entrepreneur, journalist, scientist, or user, please join us for an interactive evening of inspiration packed with great speakers, networking and more! You can also catch live tweets from the event and join in on the discussion on Twitter by following #QPatient.

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