ESPN recently published an article on how the NBA is leading the professional leagues in tracking health metrics of their players in order to improve their overall health and performance.

While the article largely talked about privacy concerns with the amount of data being collected from NBA athletes, it was interesting to understand exactly how the data is being used to improve physical health.

In medicine we are having a difficult time figuring out how the “big data” that is being collected by patients can be used to improve overall health.  With patient’s recently having the ability to update their medical records with their self collected health metrics — this issue becomes even more critical to solve.

The NBA is making the health data they collect actionable by creating algorithms that predict when players could be prone to physical injuries, player performance levels, the overall physical health of a player, and more.

The NBA is providing great lessons that could be extrapolated to general medical practice — and further show how collecting data is easier than actually making it actionable.  Obviously, an athlete in peak form isn’t going to have the same health problems as those suffering chronic diseases, but the automation of the data analysis and creation of algorithms is how we will make deciphering the data collected much easier.

There were three specific devices mentioned in the article:

Up by Jawbone

The Golden State Warriors were using the widely available device to track player activity levels and sleep activity. Prior to this, they were using questionnaires to measure these health metrics — and they found tremendous discrepancies from those questionnaires and the actual objective results the Jawbone devices revealed. These types of discrepancies were used to help make lifestyle adjustments.

Similar usage could be applied with patients.  When you discuss sleep hygiene with patients and their overall fatigue levels. Having objective evidence helps to improve sleep hygiene more effectively.

up by jawbone health

Readiband by Fatigue Science

The Dallas Mavericks used the Readiband to help monitor sleep activity for their players. Interesting enough, the Readiband is the “enterprise solution” to sleep and activity management. Used by various other professional teams, and even the U.S. Air Force and Army.

readiband fatigue science


Several teams have used “the patch”, by Proteus Digital Health. The patch is attached to the skin, and it measures not only sleep data, but heart rate, accelerometer data, rest, and more. The Proteus patch is a mix between the Up by Jawbone and Readiband in the sense that it mixes an enterprise solution with individualized patient care as well.

the patch health device