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'Emotional, Spiritual And Mental Well-Being Has Been Almost Completely Forgotten In Today's Health Care System'

We need to stop solely using technology after we're sick, and instead, use technology to maintain good health.
09/08/2014 10:47am ET | Updated November 8, 2014
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There's no shortage of new health technology in this day and age -- but we need a shift in thinking in how we use this technology, says Ben Ingersoll, chief creative officer at Grey Healthcare Group.

Specifically: We need to stop solely using technology after we're sick, and instead, use technology to maintain good health, Ingersoll told us. We sat down with Ingersoll at Stream Health, the "(un)conference" put on by advertising holding company WPP in Orlando, Florida (disclosure: AOL, the parent company of The Huffington Post, is a partner of Stream and WPP), to discuss his views on the current attitude toward health care, what shifts need to occur to get out of the "sick care" mindset, and what he thinks the future holds in getting people to sustain good health:

On putting focus back on the other aspects of health, aside from the physical...

"Medicine has been too much about science, way too left brain-oriented," he says. We need to get back to "the idea of purpose and the value of human beings as human beings. ... Emotional, spiritual and mental well-being has been almost completely forgotten in today's health care system." The current approach to health care is essentially just the tiny part of our lives, where we're sick. Instead, we need to "find a way to focus on the before, rather than the after."

On using technology to improve health in a smart way...
I think that technology is completely underused in the 'before' state -- not the 'after' state," Ingersoll says, referring to "before" sickness and "after" sickness. To that end, we need a way to shift our integration of technology beyond "just screens and devices," but instead in the things that we naturally engage with on an every day basis (like your refrigerator, toaster or alarm clock). "These are all things that can be connected to the Internet in smart ways" for purposes of improving health, he says.

On the future of health tech, and what is actually sustainable in getting us to change our lifestyle habits...

"I still think gamification is a huge way for people to focus on the 'before,' in that people love competing and people love playing games," he says. It's a natural human instinct to be competitive, and gamifying health -- whether it's with a running app, or a future technology that monitors what food you take out of your fridge -- engages the emotional, and potentially even spiritual, side of humanity. But the code still needs to be cracked -- "right now, it's just this select few people who are tech savvy who do it, as opposed to everyone. We need to figure out what will work for everyone," in a way that the technology is integrated into how humans naturally live their lives, instead of making human behavior adapt to the way technology works.