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Big Data Every Day Keeps The Doctor Away

12 March, 2015

Big Data Every Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Healthcare has been put into the hands of the people – more specifically, the handheld devices of the people.

Digital technology has recently become a major source of health information for people around the world on topics as diverse as exercise, diet, pregnancy, sleep, and mental health.

Health and fitness applications can help individuals manage their own personal health, and then often times share this valuable information with organizations that collect the data for public health research.

Wearable devices like the Jawbone, FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand and the upcoming Apple Watch take personal health to the next level, tracking everyday activities such as the number of steps you’ve taken, your heart rate and blood pressure, and how restful your sleep was. The advantages to using big data to track health are numerous.

Sociability of apps

Online and technological communication is increasingly prevalent in all generations from Millennials to Baby Boomers. According to Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Internet users are on Facebook, resulting in increased interconnectedness across the globe.

Personal information is being shared across platforms as society embraces greater transparency online. Health app users can post a status showing their friends and followers just how many miles they’ve run or how well they’ve met their daily fitness goals.

Apps such as Strava allow users to record and upload athletic activity, and then use that information to analyze and compare their workout to that of their friends. This data is collected and stored so that users can reference workouts in the future, as a way to push them to meet their goals.

Tracking of your every activity

Health and fitness apps go beyond comparing personal results to those of peers, and encourages a healthier, more self-aware lifestyle. Wearable technologies such as the Nike+ FuelBand, Jawbone and Fitbit constantly monitor and give real-time feedback on physical activity.

Wearing these devices motivates the user to continually improve and work toward their fitness goals. For example, the Jawbone will gently vibrate and remind the wearer that they have been sitting for an extended period of time and need to get up and move around. It will also show sleep details, so users have a better understanding of how their rest affects the rest of their day.

Big data in health tracking apps takes out the complicated process of analyzing diet, workouts and daily activities, and allows users the ability to more easily take control of their personal fitness.

The data recorded and stored from these applications and wearables gives health professionals and researchers a more comprehensive understanding of a person’s movement throughout an entire day, rather than relying on vague questionnaires and surveys. Fitness trackers and the scientific data they provide have the potential to change daily health recommendations and prescriptive guidelines.

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