In the U.S., we spend more on health care than anywhere in the world, but we’re less healthy. While there are many reasons for this result, one is that we’ve created an environment in which it has become hard to be healthy. We eat poorly, we’re largely sedentary, we don’t sleep enough and we’re increasingly socially isolated. But our behaviors are driven by the cultural, physical and technological environments we’ve created. We’re asking people to swim upstream and our response is to tell people to swim harder. It’s not working. Instead we should ask what it would take to reverse the direction of the river.
We often use tech to try to change individual behaviors by providing data, information and prompts. What if instead we used tech to re-shape our environments to make healthy lifestyles the default? What if we re-engineered daily life — how we eat, sleep, move from place to place, and entertain ourselves — with health as a design goal? What if, instead of treating health like an app that sits on top of an operating system biased toward unhealthy behaviors, we built health deep into our collective OS?
This talk would examine how technology has historically shaped our daily lives, identify behaviors that designers could help facilitate through creative applications of emerging technologies and showcase illustrative examples of tech that’s starting to take on the challenge.
Designing Everyday Life to Be Healthier
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Original image by Max Roser, Our World in Data. Extension by Eric Topol.
Antiqua & Barbuda
International Rank: Age-Related Disease Burden (2017 data)
Source: Chang Y, Skirbekk V, Tyrovolas S, Kassebaum N, Dieleman J. Measuring population ageing: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.
Lancet Public Health 2019; 4: e159–67.
“The fundamental answer to why so
many humans are now getting sick from
previously rare illnesses is that many of
the body's features were adapted in
environments from which we evolved,
but have become maladapted in the
modern environments we have now