Technology Is Driving A Personalized Wellness Revolution, But It May Not Be Enough To Change Bad Health Habits

The world of technology and big data are two industries that are revolutionizing our lives and our wellness. The way we travel to work, order our food, book our holidays and the way we communicate with our friends is fundamentally different from what they were just a few years ago. Technologies as wide-ranging as genomics, mobile apps, cutting-edge targeted medicines, wearable fitness and tracking devices are ubiquitous in our world.

Today’s technologies – with the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) – are both deciphering and solving healthcare problems, with a focus on personalization. With hundreds of millions of data sets being generated by human bodies across the world every day, through cognition and deep learning, we are given critical wellness and medical insights, at unprecedented speed.

Diagnoses are literally in the palm, or at least wrist, of our hand

Wearable devices are capable of detecting multiple aspects of our health and well being. Changes in our heart rate or heart beats, sleep patterns and possible falls are picked up can be sent directly to

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emergency care centers to ensure immediate treatment. In fact, with sophisticated algorithms, the data analytics is able to predict medical events before they even take place.

Bio-sensing technology is part of this revolution

Soon, this sort of wearable technology will be replaced by bio-sensing tattoos, placed on the skin and capable of measuring anything from glucose levels to blood pressure, on an ongoing basis. Importantly, these sensors will be able to monitor dosage and response of medication; the days of one-size-fits all prescriptions and dosages will soon become a thing of the past.

And while technological advances, along with artificial intelligence, will certainly go a long way towards improving the understanding of our health, we will still need to be accountable for our actions. The choices we make to exercise or not to exercise, the type and amount of food we choose to eat, will still have an impact on our health.

Unfortunately, despite access to the best information, we still make choices that are irrational and not in the best interests of our own health, or that of others. Even when we know that having a check, like a mammogram or pap smear, or getting a vaccine, can save our lives, we still choose not to have it done.

With this in mind, understanding why and how we make certain decisions is key to improving our health and that of our families. A better understanding of the psychology of our decision-making will help us put incentives and structures in place to improve our health-related behaviors.

With billions of people connected to the Internet, digital connectivity is key to solving healthcare challenges. The days of one-size-fits-all therapies are gone. And, in a world reeling against the tsunami of preventable diseases of lifestyle, the timing of the personalized healthcare revolution couldn’t be better.

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About the author

Dr Craig Nossel is the Head of Vitality Wellness, Discovery’s incentive-based wellness programme. He is a regular commentator in the media, has co-authored a number of scientific publications, and has several patents relating to wellness programs.