Apparently. A Connecticut woman wasn’t feeling well and noticed on her Fitbit that her heart rate was climbing. She sought medical help and it was determined that she had a blood clot in her lungs.
Kind of remarkable. But let’s face it, we’re desperate for stories about digital gimmicks that save lives. It’s these stories that fuel saucy digital health keynote presentations that predict a bigger, brighter, healthier future. Despite some 60 million Fitbits sold, this may be the only saved soul.
And yes, this ill-feeling woman without a Fitbit likely would have found her doctor and then been found to be tachycardic. So it’s unclear whether her Fitbit changed outcomes. Either way, the fantasy of the story works. Let’s just go with it.
With those disclaimers, a couple of thoughts.
- Simple biometrics can be powerful. Watching heart rate patterns isn’t sexy but it can be powerful. We promote the magic of nanotechnology but here’s an example of how a simple biometric change observed by an individual can make a difference.
- Sensors only favor the prepared mind. This woman was in touch with her problem because she was in touch with her metrics. She’s a quant, of sorts. She knew her baseline. She watched. This is more than I can say for most Fitbit wearers who likely never would have put two and two together. These wearables are only as good as the people who pay attention to them.
- What fits on a Fitbit? If you’re a regular you know that I love to beat up on the lowly Fitbit and our shallow fixation on steps. With that said, the Fitbit has won the hearts and wrists of a lot of people. It’s critical real estate for folks. If Fitbit can put more on their chatchkas they may may be able to move the chains with regard to
Congrats on Fitbit surviving (albeit in dresser drawers) for a decade. Here’s to 10 more years and 10 more saved lives.