Medicine X @ SUMedicine

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Medicine X inaugurated its first day on the themes of "self-tracking." 

What is this "self-tracking"? It is a movement that came into being along with other firms such as  WithingsFitbit or RunKeeper. These are the start-ups to the innovative technologies allowing each and every person to supervise predefined parameters concerning their health as well as their physical and sometimes intellectual performances.

In the United States, this movement, launched in 2007, is represented by Quantified Self and followed by people who wish to measure and analyze their personal data and to share them with the community using technologies ranging from sensors to mobile or web applications.

This first day was full of testimonies on the topic, and my feedback will only be more parsimonious, but I have especially been interested by the feedback of experiences-users of the two panels that follow.

The first one included: Anne Wright, Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Operations of the Body Track project, Paul Abramson, MD, Private Practice Physician, Quantified Doctor and Sean Ahrens, Founder of Crohnology. Sean’s story is explained below:

In its current version, Crohnology is a social network of patients who suffer from chronic intestinal inflammatory illnesses. Its vocation, in the long run, is to build a network centered on the sharing of information between patients affected by chronic illnesses. Sean wishes to create a space in which every patient can draw at once on the knowledge and experiences of other patients and thus learn from the feed-back of the treatments accomplished, whether alternative, experimental, or by prescription.

The shared vision of this panel is that people affected by chronic medical troubles generate an important quantity of data still too under-exploited, and that such platforms help modify medicine in a virtuous way. For that, and to follow Crohnology’s example, the patients are informed about the tools that are supplied to them but also about the whole directions for use of the latter. These tools are made available for the implied purpose that this tracking is not meant to be a burden but an automatic or even ludic approach with a view to motivate the community to take itself in hand. The crucial notion in this entire approach is that of giving, or the patients’ intrinsic incentive hanging on firmly to this strong need to help the community through its fight against the illness.

The second panel, dealing with a similar topic, brings together: Katie McCurdyNancy DoughertyYoni Donner, Mike Wilson and Joe Betts-LaCroix. It confronted the observations of patients and researchers. Some experiences push the "game" to excess, like that of Joe where he tries to stretch his day from 24 hours to 28 hours, thus pushing back his sleeping time by 4 hours, tracking the results on his metabolism via properly defined scorers. Others, like Mike, see in it a real incentive and impact on their health. Thanks to body media kit, Mike has defeated his diabetes and has hit his blazing fifty that is scrupulously supervised. Finally, Katie explains her fight facing the illness – myasthenia. She describes among other things the difficulties she met to get her medical file and how she began to keep her own logbook, first by hand and on paper, then with the available technology to help her. She recounts the physicians’ reactions to her initiatives and their lack of understanding. What are the major assets of this approach for her? The perfect mastery of her journey as a sick person, the perfectly coherent and built speech she can hold in front of the medical profession, a learning process while facing her illness and customs, a beneficial change of habits …

There is no doubt that this movement will gain in importance, with applications for nearly all of the daily life tools that are connected with health, from your scales to your toothbrush. And in spite of the real reticence of some Practitioners facing this approach – which can easily be understood when one imagines the tests that each person can initiate with sometimes non-validated tools – the patient will be once again at the forefront of the phenomenon.

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