Our Amazing Technology – Will it Solve our Health Care Crisis or Make it Worse?

The technological advances over the past 30 years have been astounding.  During graduate school in 1983, Trinity University received their first Personal Computers.  There were 8 IBM PCs placed in a lab.  For my independent project I wrote a Student Guide to using these PCs with a few computer programs such as Lotus 123, Wordperfect, a spell checker, a statistical package and a linear programming package.  The next year I purchased a Compaq thanks to a gift from my grandfather. For those that don’t recall or have never seen one,   it was essentially the size of a sewing machine, weighed about 30 lbs,  had an 8088 processor, 512 kb of RAM (yes I upgraded to the max), two large floppy drives and a small screen all costing a mere $3,000.  But hey, it was (trans)portable and I loved lugging it around the airports. Over the years I purchased some games such as an early version of flight simulator, and still have the computer at the house.

Fast forward to today where Health 2.0 showed us what’s available now and what’s coming in the near future. We saw how all of the cool technological tools with these advanced processors and miniaturization linked to the internet can now bring amazing power to devices that fit in your hand.  There were medication reminders, fitness programs, blue tooth enabled devices to take your weight, blood pressure or blood glucose level and transmit it to your personal health record to be shared with your provider and others. Tools to help you determine what to eat, assess your health and develop action programs to improve your health, and on and on.

All the while, Americans and those around the world are using this cool technology to get on Facebook, Yahoo, Call of Duty, YouTube, twitter, and thousands of other sites while just sitting. Years ago I had a letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal in response to an op-ed on the removal of diving boards from pools.  I ended by saying that ultimately our children may live their entire lives virtually.  Think of that, virtual skateboarding, surfing, motorcycle riding, oops we already do these, what’s next farming (hey we’re there as well).  We are creating a Wall-E world.  Remember the movie?  To me the most powerful statement was not the little robot finding life, but the humans and their bodies finding virtual. I can’t imagine what pharmaceuticals they must have been taking to keep themselves alive while they gorged on Super Sized everything’s and cruised around in those ultimate lounge chairs.

And it’s not just the internet; one of the most talked about TV shows was the series on our National Parks. What images, what grandeur. Wasn’t that great, really, all the Parks available in your living room? Sure, but, today, how many Americans even think about getting up from their chair and going to a National Park to experience  it for real?

Yes the technology shown at Health 2.0 was neat and could revolutionize healthcare. At the same time we are in a battle for our health and more so our children’s; a battle to overcome the power of this technology that allows us to live virtually while just sitting. We are on the path to creating the people and culture shown in Wall-E.

Just a suggestion, this weekend turn off the computer, the iPhone, Droid, blackberry, etc. and head outside to an arboretum, a State or National Park, the beach, a lake, a forest, or even your neighborhood. See the sites, smell the air, touch the leaves and walk. Take a healthy picnic with you instead of stopping for fast food on the way. Experience the real world; it’s even more amazing than the virtual one.

PS – Look, I know it’s tough to do, so I’ll give you one vice. When you return home you can fire up the internet, log your miles, assess your stress level, and then put a post about your great day on Facebook .


About Fred Goldstein

President and Founder of Accountable Health, LLC. My background includes over 25 years of health care experience in hospital administration, health plan management, disease management and population health.
This entry was posted in Obesity, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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