How Do You Measure Health? Thomas Goetz Wants To Know

Here’s your chance to share your self-measurement expertise for an upcoming book, The Decision Tree. (Look for the invitation link at the end of this post.) Thomas Goetz, deputy editor of Wired Magazine, has started a new blog-to-be-book about predictive medicine and the future of healthcare. It promises to be a topic close to the hearts of Quantified Self enthusiasts. In Goetz’s words:

“The premise is that we are at a new phase of health and medical
care, where more decisions
decisiontree.jpgare being made by individuals on their own
behalf, rather than by physicians, and that, furthermore, these
decisions are being informed by new tools based on statistics, data,
and predictions. This is a good thing – it will let us, the general
public, live better, happier, and even longer lives. But it will
require us to be stewards of our health in ways we may not be prepared
for. We will act on the basis of risk factors and predictive scores,
rather than on conventional wisdom and doctors recommendations. We will
act in collaboration with others, drawing on collective experience with
health and disease, rather than in the isolation and ignorance that can
come with “privacy” concerns. And we will act early, well before
symptoms appear, opting to tap the science of genomics and proteomics
in order to mitigate our risks down the road.

Together, these tools will create a new opportunity and a new
responsibility for people to act – to make health decisions well before
they become patients. This can be characterized as a decision tree, a
series of informed choices we will make to minimize uncertainty and
optimize our outcomes. Indeed, we will use decision trees to navigate
most of our health decisions, sometimes in overt ways – new decision
support tools will both inform us and guide us, and they’ll be steeped
in statistics, predicition, and the power of collective experience.

So where do we Quantfied Selves come in? Goetz wants to make the book a somewhat collaborative effort, following the current fashion of blooking. His first request is for readers to help develop a catalog of how we measure health.

He writes of “an effort to begin cataloging all the health metrics ordinary
citizens might have available to track…
I’ve divided these into three categories (for now). Basic stats,
Biometrics (in the sense of physiological statistics), and Relative
Stats (variable inputs & subjective data). There may be better
categories, and there are certainly stats I’m missing, so please help
me add more
.”

That sounds like an open invitation to me. To read more, and to add your metrics to the list, click here.

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