‘Some doctors now prescribe apps the same way they used to prescribe prescriptions’. This sentence from the BBC documentary Monitor Me sums up the revolution that quantified-self apps have brought to medicine. Inspired by the boom of apps and gadgets related to health, this documentary explains the new ways we can monitor ourselves: how much physical exercise we do, how many hours we sleep or even if we sit properly or not.

This documentary gives some examples of how this new era of health has affected the lives of very different people. From an English rugby team whose coach knows more about the health of his players than a doctor to the most monitored man in the world, who has been able to treat himself based on his data and without having to go to a doctor.

Every step, every pound, every heartbeat or every hour of sleep can be now perfectly measured. Something that until now could only be done in a hospital. Technology has made possible for us to have our little private hospital. And not only that, you can carry it with you everywhere thanks to your smartphone or to different gadgets in the market.

In this documentary, as pointed out by James Wolcott, we have also learnt that the search of personal improvement is associative, collaborative and open. This is a combination of improvement initiative and involvement along with science and accurate data known as Quantified-self. For the first time, our health is becoming social and it’s not more relegated to private spheres and to doctor-patient confidentiality. Sharing and comparing ourselves is an essential part of monitoring. Health is a social aspect and an element of relation among people who have the common goal of improving.

Although daily monitoring is mainly present on health-related aspects and physical activity measuring, it’ll soon spread to other aspects such as personal productivity and business productivity. If this trend continues, sharing our challenges and goals with others will be soon another way of connecting, helping each other to improve every day. Compete with others and obtaining recognition for our achievements will be an incentive for our personal and professional development.

What we cannot lose sight of is that the key is finding the right balance between monitoring as a tool for improvement and the obsession with measuring. We cannot be blinded by the phenomenon itself. Our ultimate goal must always be to obtain specific results in order to improve our living standards in all aspects.

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Image: Sonny Abesamis

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