Beyond Quantified Self: the rise and rise of the active health consumer
Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes
It’s been around 10 years since the first Fitbit hit the market. Suddenly, and for the first time, we as consumers could count our steps and monitor our sleep and heart rate without stepping inside the doctor’s consulting room. While first-generation wearables gave us interesting quantified data on our activity levels and sleep, we weren’t tapping into the data or connecting it with expertise to learn from it and take control of our health. A decade on and that is all changing … and fast. According to this year’s Future Health Index (FHI) report*, 40 percent of participants say they are increasingly proactive about their health, versus just 22 percent who say they are reactive.
From quantified to qualified
What’s particularly interesting to me is how digital technology is supporting and empowering people to become more ‘active’ health consumers. The quantified self has become the qualified self: first there was data, now we have improved ways of interpreting it and effectively using it to ‘triage’ our health status. Supported by the right knowledge and clinical advice, assisted by technology any one of us can now make sense of the data we collect and gather meaningful insights to qualify our health, lifestyle and care needs. This in turn helps us to make healthier lifestyle choices and find better ways to manage issues with our sleep, allergies, obesity and oral care.
Interestingly, the FHI 2019 results support this revealing one third (34 percent) of individuals who are using digital health technology are doing so to feel more in control of their health. By being more active in and informed about our own health we can help take care of each other and inspire friends and family to make good health decisions too.
Putting prevention at the heart
Healthy living and prevention are at the core of consumer health at Philips. By providing solutions that give people data-driven insights into their health and access to professional expertise, we’re helping put people in the driving seat when it comes to managing their own health and wellbeing.
Through our sleep solutions, for example, we’re helping people understand and address their sleep issues at home, from snoring and insomnia to simply not getting enough sleep. Developed by sleep specialists and physicians, our SmartSleep Analyzer lets users quickly assess their sleep habits, provides personalized feedback and recommends which solutions will help them best.
And in possibly the ultimate test of our sleep solutions in the most extreme environment — outer space — our SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband and accompanying app, which lets users monitor, manage and improve their sleep at home, has been selected for a two-year study by a NASA-funded institute into sleep and behavioural health. Researchers will look at ways sleep can be improved during deep space exploration and the relationship between sleep and cognitive performance. The findings will add to our deep expertise in this area and drive future innovations to help everyone better understand and manage their sleep.
The future looks … healthier
By more actively managing our own health, we increase our chances of staying fit and healthy — and nothing beats feeling well. Looking after our own health means we can keep being a part of and contributing to society. It also means fewer trips to the doctor and hospital, easing the burden on our healthcare systems.
For people to take better control of their health takes both insight and motivation. Increasingly, we have access to good-quality, meaningful data combined with personalized, trusted advice that suits our individual needs and lifestyle. Next step for us to adopt healthier behaviors, is to find our inner motivation to make the most of the insights and advice we receive.
We’re working tirelessly at Philips to improve the technology that will keep giving us as consumers even greater power to monitor, capture and analyse data about our health, leading to better and easier self-triaging and even treatment at home — fuelling the rise of the active health consumer.
*Philips’ FHI 2019 report focuses on the role digital health technology plays in improving the clinician and patient experience and is based on a survey of 15,000 individuals and more than 3,100 healthcare professionals across 15 countries.
Roy Jakobs is Executive Vice President and Chief Business Leader for the Personal Health Businesses of Royal Philips, effective October 1, 2018. He is also member of the Executive Committee of Royal Philips. The Personal Health businesses comprise Personal Care, Domestic Appliances, Oral Healthcare and Mother & Child Care.