Why a health tracking system must be flexible

One defining feature of HealthPixel is that there are no predefined labels. Unlike other health tracking apps, HealthPixel doesn't have a fixed list of symptoms that you choose from. There is no database of medications or foods, no predefined questionnaires, and no taxonomy of health conditions. The app is freeform (and bureaucracy-free); you choose what labels you want to use. Here is why.


HealthPixel is designed to be fast and fun to use. It should feel like jotting a couple of words to yourself on a piece of paper, not filling out a form at the doctor's office. It is annoying to waste time navigating complex menus. For example, let's say you frequently feel a bothersome tingling sensation in your arms. It might be hard to find this symptom in a database of medical symptoms. It might be called "paresthesia", "pins and needles", "numbness", "limbs falling asleep", etc. Much better for you to just enter the label that is most comfortable for you, and be done.


Your health is unique and does not fit into any predefined categories. Let's say you injured a specific spot in your left hip and want to track your recovery. The app might have a label for "low back pain", but that does not describe your symptom precisely.

Or let's say you are doing various types of stretches. The app might just have one label called "stretching", but you want to indicate whether you are doing the stretches your physiotherapist prescribed, versus the stretches you are learning from a YouTube channel. With HealthPixel, you can simply call them "physio_stretches" and "youtube_stretches".

Apps that ask you to choose from predefined categories tend to benefit the app maker (because they can more easily understand and track your data), not you.


HealthPixel lets you track a level of detail that is relevant to your health goals.

For example, one person might enter "veggie stir fry" into their food log, whereas another person who is very focused on their diet would enter each ingredient individually, such as "cabbage", "carrots", "garlic", "onions", "soy sauce", etc. This applies not just to foods, but also medications, exercises, symptoms, etc.


If you are tracking the more private or sensitive aspects of your health, it can feel awkward to "officially" add these from a predefined database, especially if you have doubts about the privacy of your data. And what if a colleague or stranger sees the data you entered on your phone? With HealthPixel, you can choose your own discreet labels for everything. (And as a reminder, HealthPixel stores your data privately on your phone.)

Other blog posts
Tips for self-experimentation
Why a health tracking system must be flexible
Hypotheses about your health
You can't figure it all out in your head
Here is an x-ray of a banana
HealthPixel feature: Levels
The problem with the "daily diary"
How to get better results with your doctor
5 reasons why HealthPixel is better than the "daily diary"
A unique way to track your sleep hours