Making Health Addictive


Blog Post Written by Kate Scheffler.

Bringing design thinking to health care, Mayo Clinic’s annual Transform symposium is a dynamic event focused on redesigning the way that health care is experienced and delivered. Leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds both inside and outside the health care industry convene at the conference and share their ideas on transforming the delivery of health care. Speakers discussed topics ranging from new models of health care delivery to challenges concerning the integration of technology into health, engaging and challenging audience members throughout the process.

Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners Healthcare, was among the inspiring speakers at this year’s Transform symposium. Dr. Kvedar is an internationally recognized leader for his vision in the field of connected health and the utilization of communication technology to improve patient’s health. According to Dr. Kvedar, “The average person checks their smartphone over 100 times a day.” Studies have been done that show the same response that addicts get when they have a craving, people get when they do not look at their phones for a long time, which led Dr. Kvedar to think, “How can we use that addictive capability to improve health?” By channeling health into this “addiction,” Dr. Kvedar aims to create a new model of health care delivery by using innovative strategies to develop programs to move care from the doctor’s office to the patients’ lives.

In healthcare, technology is increasingly playing a role in processes ranging from data monitoring to self-care. Technological innovations enable consumers to use portable devices to access their medical information and monitor vital signs. In order to build off technological addiction, Dr. Kvedar proposes his three part strategy to create an addiction to health. The first part of this strategy involves, “making it about life,” which includes involving patients in the conversation regarding their own health. What are the patient’s personal motivations and values? By answering these questions, physicians will be able to personalize care to fit patients’ lifestyle and goals.

Second, Dr. Kvedar aims to personalize the delivery of healthcare by replacing human intervention with personalized medicine. Through technological advances such as apps that monitor health data, medicine can be personalized to fit the needs of the individual. Dr. Kvedar believes that mobility in health such as the ability to capture data and display information in health will be “game changing.” The final step to Dr. Kvedar’s strategy involves reinforcing social connections by promoting engagement on a variety of social media platforms. Establishing a community for patients to engage in will enable them to work together to motivate and support each other to live healthier lives. Medicine is entering an age of mobile health, potentially leading to substantial healthcare improvements.

Leveraging information technology will enable both providers and patients to better manage chronic conditions, maintain their health, and improve clinical outcomes. If successful, Dr. Kvedar’s initiative will place health interventions in the path of smartphone addiction. Dr. Kvedar perceptive insights in regards to integrating health into technology remind us that innovation across any field is meaningful. Dr. Kvedar appropriately ends his talk with, “If we are going to look at something 100 times a day, I would really like to get a health message in that cycle.”



Kate Scheffler

Kate Scheffler is a contributing writer, and recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Rochester.


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