Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Is all this Health Tech just another fad?


Technology currently has it's big laser pointed at the health sector. The major players like Apple, Google and Microsoft (I’m sure they will turn up to the party at some point) are all rapidly producing devices and web services in the health space, keen to capitalise on the growing desire of people suffering the excesses of modern life to use technology to get them fitter and better looking.

While this is all great and I'm sure it is going to be the next Big Thing, I can't help feel a pang of cynicism around Health-Tech.

Here is why:

Health is Simple

The pillars of health are a good diet and regular exercise. Do I really need a watch to tell me not to binge on fried mars bars, drink and smoke heavily and laze on the sofa watching soaps? Further more, can it really help motivate me to do those things?

Health is faddish by nature.

New types of diets and exercise are mercilessly marketed to vulnerable people desperate to be healthier and look sexy in the process. These health kicks generally have a short term gains and once 'the mark' has relapsed they end up regressing and feeling even worse about themselves. Technology health fads are no different in nature. Instead of buying 'Shake me Thin' TM  shakes you buy an attachment to your phone and download an App.

Health is about peace of mind.

Health is as much about the mind and spirit as it is about the body. Being harassed by applications, notifications and prompts and feeling guilty about all the automated social media posts of your friends’ sporting achievements can stress the mind and dampen the spirit.

Complex is health is not for consumer technology.

There is a nervous line that consumer Heath Apps should be cautious about crossing. Serious health conditions require medical expertise to investigate and should these applications try and do too much and misdirect people from a qualified diagnosis and treatment, then they will become more a hazard than a help.

As a technologist working in the digital marketing industry, this may sound like heresy. Regardless, I think the path to true health is paved with simplicity, quiet and the obvious. I’m not sure digital listeners, supervisors, coaches and mentors are what people really need to make long lasting positive changes in their lives.

The reality is, of course, people will continue to invest money, time and effort finding that digital life coach and bolt on accessories to improve their quality of life.

And for that reason, I have no doubt I will be ‘integrating’ Health into the next generation of online experiences.  Who knows, maybe in the process I will discover something which will prove me completely wrong... and make me fitter and better looking in the process.

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