Social Media and Wellness: A Healthy Perspective

by Bradley Jobling on May 5, 2011

Health 2.0 NYC - The New York Healthcare Innovation Group

Health 2.0 NYC - The New York Healthcare Innovation Group

As most of the Western world is becomes obese, a population of people sitting in front of the computer, I wondered how the increasing use of social media could possibly be healthy. Yet that is exactly what I learned at the Health 2.0 New York City Meetup, Killer Apps for Healthy Living (KA4HL) on May 5th. How could that be so?

For a few years now Nike has had it’s shoe that communicates with your iPhone through Bluetooth to transmit data and vital statistics to an app. How about an app that records how often you’ve stopped to drink water and reminds you when you haven’t walked far enough that day? That’s exactly what Rick Lee of Healthrageous discussed. Even still, how about having a chip implanted in your body that sends vitals to your electronic medical record on a regular basis. Your physician would have the most accurate information on your health than ever before. Remove you personally identifiable information from this data and then consolidate that across multiple populations to analyze precursors or treatment outcomes. So is the uptick in social media usage all that bad?

Beyond clinical data social media can help motivate positive behaviors like exercise or a healthy diet. This is the concept behind two other sites discussed at the Meetup, Earndit and DailyFeats. Both sites work on awarding badges for accomplishments. Daily Feats adds in a point system where site members receive gift cards for doing positive things like spending more time with family, using financial sense, or accomplishing something like finishing that blog article.

So from using the web to automatically collect health data to using encouragement and rewards for accomplishments, more social media use may not be that unhealthy after all.

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