SLIDES: Quant-Friendly Doctors, Mtn View 7/19/11

Link to blog post on containing Slideshare plugin and link to Slideshare site:

Kind of disappointing that Slideshare uses Flash. If anyone wants another format pls ask and I’ll Make a PDF.

Paul Abramson MD

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Paul — if you enable “download” on Slideshare, then people will be able to download a pdf.[hr]
Paul — I really appreciated your talk at QS the other night. I’d recently written about the implications of the QS movement for the healthcare community in the SelfCare Journal(

I wonder if most doctors are able to provide good guidance to self-quantifiers. They have medical expertise of course, at least within whatever speciality they’ve chosen, but are they truly knowledgeable about self-experimentation, about conducting and learning from N=1 experiments? I think not. Why should they be … that’s not been a part of their job.

I wonder if identifying “quant-friendly” doctors is not enough.

I wonder if we need to identify, and perhaps we need to actively encourage, docs that are truly engaged in self-quantification, self-experimentation in their own lives, docs that learn from other self-quantifiers, and so gain a level of knowledge from which they can give good advice.


Sorry about the delayed response. Have been extremely busy of late.

I think most doctors who are open to self quantification efforts should be able to help quanters to reality-check and figure out how their self quantification efforts fit (or do not fit) into whatever medical problems the doctor is working with them on.

A big factor has to do with what setting the doctor is practicing in and whether the payment structure allows them to spend more than a few minutes with an individual patient without doing it “on their own time” (ie taking away from their own life and family time). This is where so-called “direct medical practice” often works better than managed care. Expecting an insurance-contracted doctor to spend an hour puzzling through data for a $10 copayment is just unrealistic.

Of course, many things also don’t require a doctor’s guidance, so it’s important to also identify which things would be better served by self-reflection, peer support, or involvement of a coach, fitness trainer, psychotherapist, or other helper. But when things are complex, require diagnostic testing, involve pharmaceuticals, or the individual has multiple medical issues going on, involving a doctor can be wise, and I think finding a smart doctor who can spend adequate time and attention is the key. I.e. A “quant-friendly doctor”

Of course, doctors who have lots of personal experience with self-tracking are even better, being more familiar with common pitfalls and helpful strategies of designing n of 1 experiments. I’m sure more of us will emerge as self-tracking evolves in our culture. But in the meantime many self-trackers still will need to find ways to interact productively with the medical world and my thought was that developing the “quant-friendly doctor” concept may assist in helping both quanters and doctors have more satisfying interactions in the short term.

Hope we can continue the discussion.