Self-tracking device? Got it. Tried it. Ditched it.

It took a while to improve upon the humble pedometer. This tiny wearable device, typically attached on or near one’s waist, has been tracking how many steps and how much distance we travel each day ever since its invention by Abraham-Louis Perrelet back in 1780.

But with the relatively recent explosion of wearable digital activity trackers on the market, I’m now waiting for the randomized control trial that compares Fitbit or any other similar device head to head with that simple old-fashioned pedometer. In other words:

Q:  Just because you make it digital, does it make it better? 
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Why 74% of smartphone apps are dropped by the 10th use

“If you build it, they will come.”  That seems to be the mantra of the tech startups that are churning out health tracking apps for our phones. But aside from the worried well of the Quantified Self movement, will Real Live Patients actually use these apps to improve health outcomes? That’s what Consumer Health Information Corporation (CHIC) wanted to find out when they surveyed about 400 smartphone owners to evaluate the likelihood of patient adherence.*

What we know so far is that we tend to exhibit a bit of a kid-in-a-candy-store initial infatuation with new and sparkly things.  Continue reading

Self-tracking tech revolution? Not so fast…

When the report called Tracking for Health was released last month, media headlines announced:

“Over Two-Thirds Track Health Indicators!”

This statistic, borrowed from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s report, referred to the 69 per cent of people who say they keep track of things like their weight, exercise, heart rate, food, stress or other health indicators. It also, however, includes almost half of self-reporting trackers who, according to Pew’s Susannah Fox, track these health indicators for themselves or others  – but only in their heads.

Surprisingly, very few headlines ran the real news from the report:

“Only 21% Use Technology to Self-Track!”  Continue reading