Jan 15, 2011

Measurement's role in the journey to health

A trio from the CementBloc, yours truly included, described the journey to wellness in a recent article on Mediapost.

In particular, consider the role that measurement plays as patients are taking medication to get healthy. Illness is often accompanied by one or more physiological metrics that are out of the normal range. As a patient is undergoing treatment, a primary way to measure return to health is by tracking those metrics as they return to the normal range. A patient can work with his or her physician to adjust the therapy based on how these health-related metrics change over time.

Metrics on wellness can be thought of individually or collectively, and technology plays an ever-increasing role in both cases. Individually, patients have more means than ever to quickly and automatically see how their health is improving. Just a few examples are the Wii Fit with built-in scale, the Bayer Contour USB glucose meter, and the Nike training and heart rate monitors. Pharmaceutical relationship-marketing programs come with pill reminders and online pain management diaries. These diaries have evolved from paper-based journals to secure Web pages, and now reside as apps on personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones.

Collectively, healthcare companies and device manufacturers want to measure overall utilization of wellness, conversion, and adherence tools placed in the marketplace. Web analytics data can signify which patient resources are most being utilized, and which features should be improved.

It is fascinating to think of what role media can play on this journey. Imagine if one's weight loss is not progressing as rapidly as needed, or pain relief is not coming quickly enough. Could one's PDA tracker or personal monitor someday become a venue for product placement for better nutrition products, exercise equipment, or even medication? As our country debates individual Web site data privacy issues, this may be a new angle to consider.