Personal and preventive healthcare makes headlines for a reason. The promise to help individuals to understand how their body works is truly disruptive to the traditional healthcare industry.
For so long we have queued up for an unknown doctor to hand over an impersonal prescription based on a brief conversation, perhaps a couple of quick tests. The traditional approach of taking an isolated measure and comparing it to a standardized average is most certainly on its way out
We’ll soon know our specific personal needs to stay healthy. We’ll be able to predict medical conditions in advance and receive guidance and medication that’s just right for just us. The key to the new era in healthcare is long-term and individual monitoring.
We’re all different to begin with, and we treat our bodies in different ways, both good and bad.
Whatever you did yesterday -- exercised heavily or not at all, worked long hours under stress or enjoyed a relaxing day off, had a good rest or trouble sleeping, ate healthy or had two drinks too many -- the way you treated your body the day before has a major impact on your bodily state today.
Consequently, comparing results of an isolated test of an individual on any given day with average results of a larger population is a huge oversimplification. You’re different, and you had a different day.
Personalized healthcare tackles this very issue with long-term measurement that seeks to understand each individual. Counting in both good days and bad creates a baseline against which any medical condition can be predicted, analyzed and treated much more precisely than ever before.
Interestingly, sports science has yet to tap into the opportunities of personalization.
The wearables frenzy with a multitude of wristbands and other shiny sensors for fitness tracking has excited a large number of people into measuring themselves. While it’s certainly beneficial to know more about how our body works -- and even better if the data pushes us to exercise more -- the results we get are a lot less personal than one would think.
Under the hood, the vast majority of even the most advanced methods and devices designed to measure the state of our body are based on comparisons against averages. Take any heart rate variability (HRV) device on the market, and it’s averages you’ll see.
In the many years we’ve spent studying exercise readiness and neuromuscular activity with leading sports scientists and professional athletes with the aim of reliably analyzing training readiness in real time, the more we’ve began to emphasize personal baselines in tracking.
It’s time we took personalization seriously and forgot about standardized averages.
Yes it takes some perseverance to keep doing the measurements for a week before getting the first result -- but getting data that is truly personal is well worth the while.