by Renata Smith, MPH
The piloting of research on the “quantified self” – the collection of data on day-to-day activities, made easy using wearable devices that collect everything from heart rate to sleep – is a first step. The 100K Wellness Project is a pilot study from a team at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington. Their goal is to test the workings of the ‘P4 medicine’ paradigm – healthcare which is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory – rather than the standard ‘reactive’ healthcare system. To achieve this, a 100 person pilot (which will eventually be scaled up to 100K+ persons) will collect daily data on everything from sleep patterns and behaviors to stool samples, as well as sequencing participants’ genes. By collecting such large amounts of individuals’ data, the researchers anticipate the ability to predict and prevent disease for individuals. Current participants also have the added benefit of health coaches, who work with the individuals to optimize their health and wellbeing based on the results of the collected data.
While there are very important cautions about data security, false positives, and unnecessary and potentially harmful interventions, utilizing Big Data for the improvement of human health may make significant contributions. Time will tell.