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Virtually Speaking

Can technology save us?

Posted by Anne Finch on May 4, 2015 12:10:30 PM


Finding the time, energy and discipline to keep ourselves healthy can be challenging. Add to that all of the advertising that constantly seeps into our unconscious with unhealthy messages and prompts, and it’s no wonder that most of us fall short of the perfect balance of diet, exercise and sleep.

In today’s busy world, what we all want – what we all need – are tools to help make achieving healthier lifestyles easier. Simple is always best. And since we’re talking about our most basic need as humans – staying alive – shouldn't there be a simple solution?

The app store is loaded with tools designed to help us (there are 43,000 health and medical apps available on iTunes, according to an IMS report1), but are they making a dent? Are people adopting them?

There are gadgets galore—clip-ons, bracelets etc., but do people stick with them? According to a study from Manhattan Research on consumer mobile health that surveyed about 3,000 individuals of all age groups, although 70% of respondents had heard of wearable devices, only 18% owned one.2

How do people feel about the role technology can play in improving health and wellbeing? According to a 7,000-person, multinational McCann Erickson survey called “The Truth About Wellness,” 40% of people indicated that they feel more in control of their health because of technology.3

“Because the stakes are so high to improve healthcare outcomes and economics, Forrester [Research] believes it will be the first industry to benefit from cognitive solutions," notes the research firm in a February artificial-intelligence report cited by Fortune.com. A major area of focus in the next five years: Personal solutions that help patients manage their own health.4

So, the question remains: How do we effectively harness the power of technology to live healthier lives? Most of us are aware of the multitude of apps, wearables, gadgets, etc. at our disposal that can keep us on track and healthy – but is there room for improvement? The answer is an overwhelming yes. While at SXSW Interactive this year, we polled passersby to get their opinions on the good, the bad and everything in between when it comes to utilizing technology to maintain or improve health. See what they had to say.

The interesting takeaway from these random interviews is that most people want proactive engagement, like a prompt to drink more water throughout the day and/or to get out there and be active. Apps that know when to step-in and engage have the ability to merge gracefully into a person’s life.

Ultimately, we have to motivate ourselves. Each of us is responsible for our own outcome. But we need the tools to help us do so. Let’s be honest: we can all benefit from that extra boost in motivation that technology provides us.


  1. http://www.imshealth.com/portal/site/imshealth/menuitem.762a961826aad98f53c753c71ad8c22a/?vgnextoid=e0f913850c8b1410VgnVCM10000076192ca2RCRD&vgnextchannel=736de5fda6370410VgnVCM10000076192ca2RCRD&vgnextfmt=default
  2. http://mobihealthnews.com/40929/how-can-health-wearables-reach-health-app-adoption-levels/
  3. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255081.php
  4. http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/ibms-healthcare-prescription/

Topics: Healthcare, Patient Engagement