A Social Health Network to Prevent Disease Progression

by Kara Mitman | Jul 14, 2015

We can now add Jawbone or Fitbit activity trackers to our wrists or even wear technology such as the Athos workout attire. These health wearables help remind of the importance of our health and make us more aware of our lack of exercise, but are they really changing our behavior? Physicians have struggled to convince patients to re-route unhealthy habits for decades. How can we begin to intervene in the simple decisions that lead to lifestyle changes and disease prevention?

Disease and injury seem inevitable, but there is growing evidence that disease can be averted if preventative initiatives and strategies are available to supplement behavioral change.2 7 out of 10 Americans will develop a serious health condition that could be prevented through lifestyle changes.1,2,3 Starting a diet and workout regimen or quitting smoking can be difficult and being consistent and committing to long-term health goals has proved difficult for Americans.2 Since the majority of us are facing potential health obstacles as a result of behaviors that are difficult to change overnight, why don’t we encourage each other to reach this common goal through shared resources and integrate clinical and community interventions? Companies that incorporate community sharing have been expanding at a rapid and international scale across industries. Omada Health is one such company in digital therapeutics that is reconstructing the way we approach preventive medicine through community and technological efforts in the diabetic disease space.  In their pre-diabetic program, Prevent, a user is given a customized program, assigned a health coach that provides daily feedback, and smart technology that provides real-time feedback.1 However, the true innovation lies in the access to a social network that provides support, encouragement, and accountability, allowing those with pre-diabetic struggles to join a group with similar hurdles that helps its members become healthier and lower diabetes risk.

Inducing change through collaboration and use of technology is the concept we should be embracing as a culture to move forward and encourage change in the healthcare sector. The momentum within digital therapeutics has been steadily growing and will undoubtedly contribute to the way we interact with our physicians, approach our medical issues, and begin to create a current in the wave of preventive medicine. However, some people’s insurance may not cover a program like Prevent. For those who face a financial burden resulting in lack of a health education, less accessibility to healthier foods, lower income, and less support, just to name a few, we must still find ways to engage them through the feeling of a community and the use of technology to  help more people make efforts towards their most valuable investment: health.

 

  1. Omada Health website https://omadahealth.com/#fullscreen/digital_therapeutics
  2. CDC Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
  3. Kung HC, Hoyert DL, Xu JQ, Murphy SL. Deaths: final data for 2005. National Vital Statistics Reports 2008;56(10). Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_10.pdf
  4. Ockene JK, Edgerton EA, Teutsch SM, Marion LN, Miller T, Genevro JL, Loveland-Cherry CJ, Fielding JE, Briss PA. Integrating evidence-based clinical and community strategies to improve health.Am J Prev Med 2007;32:244-252. Available from: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/integrating-evidence-based-clinical-and-community-strategies-to-improve-health