New approaches to analyzing the math can help — especially when the math describes the network of relationships among measures of health care use. In other words, monitoring not just individual streams of data, but relationships such as the ratio of one measurement to another, can provide a more sensitive measure of what’s going on. Those kinds of analyses can help make sure that a surge in health care use in a given city because of a temporary population influx (say, for the Olympics) is not mistaken for the beginning of an epidemic.
Never thought I'd see the day when I'd be working on an engineering challenge, as a non-engineer.
But thanks to my patient cofounder @shazow, Contagion Health is doing just that.
Last night we recorded our YCombinator video application.
We had just one minute to say why we're doing what we're doing, to try and explain why we're obsessed with making health social through simple, beautiful, easy to use tools like #getupandmove.
This was harder than it sounds. As a non tech engineer, I am guilty of spending too much time wrasslin' with complex metaphors, weighty analogies, and theoretical acronyms.
But during this 1 minute, we didn't have time to layer bullshit over our dreams about how social tech can enable health.
This turned out to be a very, very good exercise.
Andrey and I argued about what we'd say (ahem, 'discussed') for about an hour prior to taping 4 takes.
I'd recommend all startup founders and wannabee entrepreneurs who follow the gospel of Paul Graham (YC) tape a 1 minute intro describing your business.
Later (after the app process) I'll post our video - and in the next couple days I'll be posting some funny outtakes.
But for now, here's the gist of why we're working on a platform that'll let you find, choose, check, and use information that's important for your life *yes, Quantified Self friends, stuff like your Nike+ or WakeMate data too.
Life isn't about data. It's about choices.
Your choices. And how they reflect who you want to be, how you want to live - especially when something goes wrong, like falling asleep at the wheel and hitting an 8 foot iron ships' anchor dead on.
Because, let's face it, even after the worst kind of trauma we start to think - pretty much as soon as we wake up after a life disruption, shake ourselves off, and look around - about what in the hell we're going to do NEXT.
And these choices - both the ones we actually make and all the thousands of potential decisions we *could* make at any given time but don't - generate a shi%ton of data.
Your stream of data means nothing in isolation - it's about the decisions you make (or don't make) as a result of seeing it. Smart 'triple threat' engineers like Andrey get this, and code accordingly.
They get that you have to visualize data in a way that makes it USEFUL for your health, but more importantly, for your life.
You personally - not your mobile phone, not your personal health record - are still the best 'advanced health informatics' engine out there.
It's not your fault we haven't figured out how to help you make sense of it all.
Your datastream, your lifestream, this should be manageable, measurable, modifiable.
It must be by you, for you, your own personal asset - and presented in a way that makes doing the things you want to do possible.
We're working on it.
I hope others participating in this engineering challenge, that their work and ours, will mark the beginning of the contagious health epidemic.