Personalizing Prevention: The Future of Health Technology


By Gillian Christie, Health Innovation Analyst, Vitality Institute and Derek Yach, Executive Director, Vitality Institute

An era of personalized prevention is taking hold across populations globally. In 1926, rudimentary technological applications for epidemiological surveillance were piloted. In 1995, Nelson Mandela demonstrated the potential of technology by endorsing TELECOM. Today in 2014, mobile health enables us to track our health wirelessly and in real-time; tomorrow, health technology will be smaller, faster, friendlier, and individualized to usher in personalized prevention.

Tomorrow, health technology will serve to sustainably advance health. It is estimated that two-thirds of individuals who download a mobile health application subsequently terminate use before the benefits of engagement become apparent. Vitality, a workplace health program, has innovatively overcome this by linking personalized health technology – wearable tracking devices and mobile applications – with behavioral economics principles to yield better health outcomes.

Vitality concluded that members who maintained or increased engagement with personalized health technology and who received financial rewards for their healthy activities had better health, lower hospital admissions, and lower healthcare costs than non-members. Using personalized health technology, individuals were nudged so that the healthy choice became the easy choice.


Joseph Kvedar, Director of the Center for Connected Health, suggested at the recent mHealth Summit that mobile health be the next technology bubble after the dot-com burst. We believe that any such mobile health bubble will only burst if consumers are cynical of the technology’s benefit or if regulations hamper innovation. Otherwise, personalized prevention is here to stay.


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