By John Lynn

This guest post is part of the Festschrift of the Blogosphere celebrating HealthBlawg’s Tenth Blogiversary. Festschrift posts are appearing throughout the month of June 2016.

While most people will tell you they care about their health, their actions say otherwise.  The reality is that the rest of our life is full of bright shiny objects and so it’s really easy for us to get distracted.  However, there’s a coming revolution of health care that is totally integrated into your life that’s going to help us care about our health and we won’t even realize it is happening.

If you were to ask someone if they cared about their health, 100% of people would say they do.  In fact, you’d likely hear the majority of people go on to say that if they didn’t have their health, then they wouldn’t have anything.  While we are happy to publicly proclaim our desire for health, our actions often send a very different message.

How often do we grab the TV remote instead of our bike helmet?  How often do we take the extra piece of dessert or portion of lasagna when we weren’t even really that hungry?  I could go on and on.  I’m sure you’re now thinking about the unhealthy choices you make without really even thinking about it.  We all do it.

This is why the wave of health sensors and advanced healthcare communication is so exciting to me.  Soon we will have so much more information about the consequences of the choices we make.  With the right sensors you could know the impact lying on the couch will have on you versus going on the bike ride.  You can see how your blood sugar level changes after the first slice of pie and will hopefully decide to avoid that unneeded second piece.

To be clear, the sensors won’t be enough to change our behavior.  Yes, the sensors will help inform us, but more importantly it will inform the communication we need to help us change our behavior.  Do you see the nuance there?  This is why we need sensors and advanced healthcare communication.  Sensor data itself will generally not change behavior, but that data can inform the right AI bot or healthcare coordinator who can use that data to influence better health decision making.

We’ve known this vision for a while even though it’s taken a while to get us there.  Plus, many would argue that we’ve yet to see massive changes to people’s behavior.  I generally agree, but that’s because of one major issue with current healthcare technology.

The problem with most health technology today is that it requires too much of the patient.  These technologies need to be nearly invisible and fully integrated into a person’s life.  We’re not there yet, but we’re going to get there.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years about health rewards is that you can’t reward people on a consistent basis.  When you do, we start to build that into our expectation and it loses out on its desired effect.  Instead, the motivation and reward has to be somewhat unexpected and done in the right context to be effective.  What platforms in healthcare have you seen that employ this in their efforts to improve patient behavior?

There aren’t many that are doing this, but there will be.  In fact, it’s one of the most exciting things I see happening in healthcare and health IT today.  This intersection of health data, sensors, communication, AI, behavior change, healthy living, and more has so much potential to change how we think about our health.

The great part is that this new wave of health IT is going to become part of our lives and we’re barely even going to realize it is happening.  In fact, we’ve already embarked down that path.  My phone’s already automatically tracking every step I take.  Once we get sensors in the bloodstream, the possibilities are endless and it will all just happen automatically.  This is truly integrated health and it’s not as far off as it might seem.

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 10,000 articles with John having written over 5,000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.