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  • Writer's pictureRenato Romani MD MBA

Promoting health by humanizing technology

How an ostrich come to appear in an article about technology?

You could think that I will need to bring topics like artificial intelligence, virtual medicine, telemedicine, decision-makers support systems, or the 5th generation of electronic health recorders. Still, instead, I get a picture of an ostrich. Why?

To remember that we, humans, don't like numbers. Ok, my wife is a physicist, and maybe not human, but anyway, I agree that we have some exceptions on this planet. Also, as a medical doctor, I need to admit that these "minorities" usually are doing well with their health maybe because they measure themselves frequently? For sure, they are not afraid of "these" numbers. I can't deny that pay attention to numbers (medical parameters) that medicine can reveal to us is the best way to get better health. But the majority of us have a kind of Ostrich syndrome (as you can read in this article) and don't like to see these kinds of numbers. I'm talking about our bank account, our grades, our weight on the scale, and so on.

About the scale, that is the most interesting one. It the easiest "number" to collect compare to so many other health parameters that we have available today but we don't understand our weight and the majority of us just don't step on the scale. A short story... I was invited to talk about Sinque in an event and I started with a bathroom scale under my arms. When I walk on the stage, I asked the crowd: who wants to step on this scale? The 5 "not humans" were the only to raise their hands. The other 200 people just had a lot of laughs.

Do you think that just bringing new technology will change public health? More than 22 million wearable devices invaded the consumer health market in the last five years. And if you see the obesity statistics, you can conclude that many humans don't like numbers.

The challenge is not only to dominate big data or "bribe" people with gamification or money prizes to motivate them to measure and change their health. The challenge is to create interfaces that encourages people, the interfaces that can "touch" the intrinsic motivation of humans.

It is time to humanize technology!

Front. Psychol., 08 February 2017 |

Why Do People Act Like the Proverbial Ostrich? Investigating the Reasons That People Provide for Not Monitoring Their Goal Progress Betty P. I. Chang1, Thomas L. Webb2* and Yael Benn3

  • 1Centre for Research in Cognition and Neurosciences, Centre for Social and Cultural Psychology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium

  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

  • 3Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

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