2024 New Years Resolution
Health >> Everything
New Year’s Resolutions
Who is making New Year’s Resolutions this time of year? Be it personal or within your business, you will undoubtedly be inundated with the topic…at least for the next month. What are the most common resolutions for 2024?
Ah yes, the ever-popular ‘I’m going to hit the gym’ resolution coming in at #1. Meme culture knows this all too well:
All joking aside, getting our body (#1) and mind (#3) right is always a good idea, one that shouldn’t wait for the calendar to tell us when is a good time to start. We assume the goal on finances (#2) for 2024 may be, as the US Fed famously said, “transitory” with ongoing inflation battles. Since this is a data-focused thread, let’s dive a little deeper into these resolutions.
Specifically, nearly half (48%) reported using some sort of technology (i.e. wearable / app) to assist in monitoring, tracking, and holding themselves accountable. While I still see a good number of the “old heads” using notebooks at the gym, I suppose that still counts as technology (depending on our frame of reference). This finding isn’t all that surprising with the emergence of the Apple Watch, Whoop Strap, and others. Data is fun and we can become our own personal case study.
But the TYPE of goals matter too. Running TOWARD something seems to be more impactful than running AWAY from something (but I guess as long as you are running, that’s good too)
The types of goals you set also matters when it comes to success. Research suggests action-oriented goals are more likely to result in success after a year than avoidance-oriented goals (58.9% versus 47.1% in this specific data set).
It’s unclear if it’s simply the power of positive suggestion that impacts motivation that gets us out of bed (“I want to DO something” vs. “I don’t want to do THAT anymore”) or whether the goal framing itself really does matter. Could we have a greater chance of success simply by restating our goals? From a business perspective, maybe not. But, as it relates to our personal goals, this is entirely possible.
Now for the bad news: Our average resolutions lasts just 3.4 months. Are the goals too ambitious? Do we lack long-term focus? Or does “life” always seem to get in the way and we fall back into old routines/patterns? Ironically, most respondents (84%) feel their resolution will have a lasting impact beyond 2024…that must be a really intense first few months!
Back to data…wearables are one way to keep us honest, partly for the ease of acquiring the information and partly because they almost make a game of the goal. But, they also serve as a useful tool if we lack the discipline to ‘self-report’ our bad days with equal enthusiasm to our good days. Eventually, the data will reveal itself in performance. As the kids say these days - “Ball Don’t Lie”.
Pontem works on several projects in the energy industry where we have access to “unlimited” data (i.e. SCADA, our “Wearable Device”), which is necessary for remote operations and high remediation costs. We collect real-time information about the “health” of our assets and have access to it on-demand, which we can use to make informed decisions. Conversely, Pontem also works on projects with more ‘self-reporting’ (manual entry, “When did I launch that pig out in Pecos County?”). We have seen countless examples of data that is misaligned with the agreed-upon program, which sets up a ‘he said / she said’ of which data is correct. Do we trust what should have happened or what was written down? At a minimum, this puts a strain on resources to sort it out. And ultimately, which ones do you think have higher reliability? Or, which do you think is easier to troubleshoot and optimize? It’s quite difficult to improve performance if we are not tracking what is going on.
Medical Field Data
When it comes to our health, access to information is critical for doctors to help accurately assess patients. Pontem recently sat down with a leading cardiologist, specializing in thoracic and cardiovascular disease, to discuss the opportunities and challenges with data-leveraged diagnoses. The key take-aways were:
Many contributing factors to heart disease can be easily assessed / screened with current technology, not requiring advanced AI approaches. As an example, cholesterol could be self-managed (at-home) by uploading readily-available blood test results, accessing the latest heuristics on diet / medication, and developing a recommended course of action. Is it a full-stop program that avoids the need to ever see a doctor? No. But, could it be used as a first-pass to take some simple, yet effective big strides? Yes.
Patients are taking a more proactive approach to their health. They are coming armed with data and questions. Using the cholesterol example, we are good at being able to read/understand our numbers and what they “mean”. We know what HDL/LDL numbers are good/bad. But, we still lack a “so what’s next?” understanding of how to translate those numbers into actionable insights. What specifically should I do to get my LDL number down? What is a good baseline? How does my family history impact this? How long do I need try a new behavior? What are the interactions with other medications? Being able to provide a simple, systematic roadmap is possible, but often not done. There is a lack of specific coaching to help people make better decisions when they have broad goals (resolutions) like “Improve health”. Pontem will be looking to help in this process…stay tuned….
Diagnosis rules and guidelines are dynamic, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay current with best practices within the medical community. The medical professionals are overwhelmed, getting worse and more strained with the aging Baby Boomer generation. Having a consistent mechanism to not only screen, but accurately recommend course of action and stay current with ever-changing guidelines is becoming critical to see the number of patients necessary. They just can’t keep up with the current system, which can lead to misdiagnoses or simply not enough personal attention.
Navigating the world of insurance providers (this was a US doctor, after all….) makes simple options more complicated than necessary. The tools and technology exist to be more effective (even before looking to the likes of ChatGPT, LLM, DRL, etc., which bring about real concerns related to liability). Enabling patients to take a more proactive approach to managing their health is a way around/through this, using the data they are now collecting and bridging that with medical best practices. Data and discipline. We also spent a lot of time on the current states of “sick care” and whether or not we are truly using every tool in our toolkit to look at prevention (vs. treatment)…the feeling was an overwhelming “No, we are not”.
Pontem Health (Oct 2023) - Moving Mountains
Back in October, we published an update on our collaboration with a leading, data-driven medical company, FountainLife. It served as a resource for different voices and viewpoints on the topic of how data/AI is being incorporated into medical care. As we come out of the holiday season, where many of us have spent time with loved ones, some of these stories may resonate with their own health journey. Check out the link below.
Aside from their stated goals of improved quality of life and increased longevity - which we can all get behind - FountainLife’s approach has many parallels to Pontem’s other verticals. I particularly like their statement:
“You don’t know what’s happening inside your body until you look”.
Now let’s replace ‘body’ with pipeline, well, reservoir, mine, site, or even cow uterus. Many of the same principles apply. Let’s measure what we can, frequently, and use that data paired with subject matter expertise to unlock breakthrough outcomes. In a proactive, minimally-invasive way. If we can do this with external objects, certainly we should do this with a more important one: ourselves!
Podcasters are People, Too
We shared the story of ‘The Mountain’ and his journey at the FountainLife facility in the link above, showcasing that the topic is moving beyond medical journals and into pop culture. It seems the data-enabled health trend has caught on with the popular podcast crowd too. Check out this story from Chris Williamson (Modern Wisdom and his 1.5 million subscribers, 5000x Pontem’s reach…) and his own discovery journey.
A few months ago I asked @bengreenfieldfitness who he would go to if he wanted a one-stop-shop for all in one preventative medicine and he said @fountainlife.
I had a gut microbiome analysis to work out food allergies and digestive health, a genetic test to uncover if I have any gene mutations or predispositions, a TrueDiagnostic TruAge test to look at my telomeres and look at how quickly my body is aging compared to my actual age, a full body dexa scan, a heart angiogram with contrast to assess the health of my heart and coronary arteries, a 90 minute full body MRI scan to look for any tumors or abnormal growths inside of my body and a hyper-sensitive balance test.
All this information was then run through an AI system to compare me against aggregated data from thousands of other patients to look for risk factors for every potential disease and future health risk. 10% of patients find out they have an undetected cancer lurking inside their body. No need to be nervous then.
It seems to me that medicine has been playing catch up for the last 150 years. Treating people after they get ill is the opposite of how things should work. We now have the technology to detect Stage 0 cancers, early onset dementia signs and everything else. You’re then intervening to stop illnesses before they actually manifest, as opposed to trying to patch them up after they’ve occurred. I much prefer this new approach.
Why (When) Does it Matter?
All of this is great and we are developing the technology to enable better outcomes and improve longevity. We have the ability to do this *now*. But, when should we start to care? Are we taking the right steps early in life to enable better quality of life later? Does anyone want to buy an umbrella when it is sunny out? Well, turns out, the earlier we start preparing, the better (who knew??)
There is a growing trend for our aging population - especially those who have conquered the professional/business world - to look at how to hold on for longer and enjoy their later stages of personal life (often because they sacrificed those things early on for status/financial glory…but that’s another post). But, is it too late? Or, perhaps the better question, is there a cheaper / easier option if we are more proactive? Check out this story from Dr. Peter Attia and his interview with another well-known podcaster, Steven Bartlett (Diary of a CEO podcast).
When is the best time to start thinking about this stuff?….In the last decade of their life, it’s all they are thinking about. It’s not that the Titanic didn’t see the iceberg in time, it didn’t have the runway to really move out of the way.
Some of this may be related to the very real and emotional fear of knowing too much. Something brought up by our cardiologist colleague. Is ignorance bliss? Is knowing that we could be at higher risk for a potential problem in the future something we really want to know? Unfortunately, many people will decide that it is not. Its up to every individual to make that choice - which makes the role of using data in health-related considerations more challenging because it is so personal. For me, I fall in the camp of ‘I would rather know, even if its bad news’ (as opposed to complete silence and acting like everything is fine…that’s the worst)
The morals of all the stories are all similar, whether we are talking about our personal health or the health of our business (i.e. performance). We have an inherently imperfect and flawed starting point: we are human. We make irrational and emotional decisions (yes, even engineers). We have the data at our fingertips to make more educated choices every day, but we don’t always do that. Is that because we don’t want to manage on auto-pilot (do we need that feeling of free will)? Or, have we not made the data-driven approach appealing enough? Or, have we simply not connected the dots of what’s possible and fully democratized it to make it tangible and accessible? Hard to say.
With growing technology advancements, we have the ability to “think differently” and more logically. Posting motivational quotes and shouting affirmations can be useful…(Who is gonna carry the boats?!? And the logs?!?)…but sometimes we need a little more. Some consistency to put systems in-place that help us and warn us when we are veering off-track, especially for health-related goals (it’s hard - impossible - to be at 100%, 24/7/365 - no matter what social media tells you about hustle/grind culture). In business, we have this with KPIs and various dashboard systems that can tell us the score whenever we want (and if we don’t want to look, our boss will remind us).
At Pontem, we are trying to make this process more seamless and ingrained in every-day decision-making. Yes, we will all continue to make emotional decisions that don’t always take the best data into account. But, if we can make fewer of those decisions, we will ultimately achieve better outcomes. My nutrionist friend Keith Klein says “Make better bad choices” when it comes to diet (a perennial Top 5 resolution for people). With a proactive approach to leveraging data, we can do this, especially if we know the consequences of each decision. Professionally and personally.
And as for my New Year’s Resolution…it was ‘learn to surf’. In 2023, Pontem started an office in Australia, so this feels like a legit business expense. You can keep your tailgates and golf tournaments - networking in the middle of the ocean is where its at!
As I write this article from Maui, I did finally figure out how to surf, ticking that box. Given how I started (at zero) and where I finished on Day 1 (wave-riding to shore), I figure by end-2024, I should fulfill my Bodhi fantasy (for the ‘Point Break’ fans) of surfing Bell’s Beach in Australia. Is there an early health screening for my delusions?
But, I thought this picture was much better way to capture how my year has started. It can only get better from here…I hope…