I’ll just let you in on a little secret. I’m not the best when it comes to managing my finances. It seems like a lot of work for little return. Not to mention, it’s hard to find good information that is both well-informed without coming with some larger agenda (I’m looking at you, professional financial executives with TV and publishing deals).

It’s funny because ostensibly, I should be exactly the kind of guy who lives to manage his finances: My father was an investment exec for almost 30 years, so I know the terminology, I like knowing what’s going on to a fairly OCD level of detail, and I’m married and have someone who is also involved in he decision-making/spending process.

But I still hate it.

There’s one thing that has made my life a little easier when it comes to money, and that’s Mint. 

If you aren’t on Mint, I have to assume you’re independently wealthy and have someone on staff who manages all your money. No? Then I can’t imagine what you’re waiting for. It grabs all your financial accounts (checking, savings, investments, loans, etc) and checks to keep that info up to date every date without you having to do anything.

That alone is worth the price of admission. But Mint takes it to the next level, making that data easy to see and understand with a graphical interface (both on the full browser and in the app) that is superb. It then augments that data and interface with information I might not have had at my disposal. for example, other banks offer better rates for my savings account. I spent $xxx in ATM fees this months, so maybe stop being such a dumbass and make sure you’ve got cash the next time you pass your own bank. It tells me that I usually spend $xyz a month on clothes, but this month I spent $XYZ. I can see if I’m going out to eat too much, or where my entertainment money goes. And it does it simply and without judgement.

How good is Mint? It’s so good, I’ll open my app 3-6 times a week. This single action triples (easily) the amount of financial data I access in a given time period. And we all know that access and awareness is the first step towards action.

And since this isn’t a column on the beauty of Mint, how can pharma apply these lessons to getting people to do something they hate to do: take their medicine.

The lessons of Mint are obvious:

  • Make it easy to import data
  • Make it easy to see what’s going on
  • Make it easy to see when things are going well or not going well
  • Offer recommendations on how to make things better (without being preachy or judgmental)
  • Make it available on multiple platforms
  • Make it really pretty (but not too pretty)

Let’s say I have diabetes like a few million other Americans. I’m supposed to monitor my blood sugar and my inputs (food, exercise, water, meds), I’m supposed to make adjustments to all these things based on my status, so the key is to make me obsessed with my status and adding data, right?

There is a growing movement (Hi, Tim Ferris!) that is semi-obsessed with measuring your body: what goes in, what goes out, how strong, how fast, how fat, how smart, etc and how it all ties together. How does exercising slowly for 45 minutes a day every day affect the body differently than exercising vigorously for 15 minutes a day twice a week? What happens to your blood sugar if you introduce cinnamon and creatine supplements daily? If you’re really good about food and exercise all week, what does a serving of really good ice cream do to your sugars and for how long does that last?

This movement is most commonly called the Quantified Self. Why listen to how a drug is supposed to affect you, when you can measure how it actually affected you? 

The QS people represent a small, but influential segment of the population (you know, like Twitterers) and this is where the most interesting adherence ideas are going to be coming from in the future.

Wow, when did this post become a pitch to follow @SusannahFox?

Anyway, comments are open and you can always talk to me on twitter @digital_pharma