You can’t boil the ocean with personalized medical data- at least not yet.
Companies like Keas have tried and failed (fortunately for them, Keas is finding success with a new gamification approach). They aren’t the only company whose attempted to be the “Mint.com” of health care – if I only had a dollar for each time an entrepreneur has mentioned this aspiration, I’d need Mint.com just so I could manage all my earnings! Watching this strategy unfold, I ask myself “Are we trying to do too much, too soon?”
I believe relevance and showing progress are both key ingredients to motivating behavior change. Collecting data enables tailored content and interventions. People see their progress through data feedback. Ideally this is immediate– real-time if possible– and relevant to them. We know it’s relevant if it connects with their values. Thomas Goetz of Wired magazine gave an interesting TEDTalk on using personalized data to create simplified, relevant messages.
Up-and-coming services and apps like Foursquare and RunKeeper collect and feed back user data for specific goals. They are focused on specific behaviors, in these cases, visiting places and runs. We can observe these projects and learn from their successes and failures. Just like a person can’t realistically change his own diet overnight, we as an industry can’t change our population’s health and wellness overnight. So, let’s see what works as we tackle different behaviors using different data-driven tools. At some point, I think we will achieve the Holy Grail of healthcare– managing and using our personalized data all in one place– but only after successive industry-wide iterations.