Imagine a world where the only options also happen to be the healthy ones. Daily life is filled with constant choices– where we live, what we eat and even how get from point A to point B. Modern living defaults to convenience and what makes us instantaneously happy, but not necessarily what makes us healthy. From adding plant-based options to creating more green spaces, it’s time to stop fighting modern life and start using technology to innovate it. This SXSW session dealt with some of the ways tech companies are influencing policy and changing the world’s defaults.
So, what is “Health?”
When people think about “health” they think about:
- Affordable Healthcare
- Modern Hospitals
However, many aspects of our culture are responsible for bringing us to health. Defaults become incredibly powerful and influential in our culture. From the services we are provided, to the products we love to consume, every default results in our overall health. Social determinants of health such as our surroundings, upbringing, and culture are powerful in determining how technology can be used to improve defaults. Panelist Ryan Panchadsaram of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers explained that one of the main issues with our social responsibility to health is that most business models centered around healthcare don’t actually proactively work for health.
Improving quality of life and “health” begins with what’s around you. Panelist Nick Chim, head of Sidewalk’s Model Lab, is working with a team of talented architects, engineers and designers to reimagine cities at a small scale in hopes of building models that tackle big social issues such as high mortality rates, inefficiency in mobility and the spread of disease. Based on the behavior of a small sample of a population, Sidewalk can build maps that allow city planners to understand and promote active living, provide more public modes of transportation and influence daily choices that lead to “health.”
It doesn’t stop at our physical infrastructure. Scaling positivity requires policy. Panelist Karen Desalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, actively promotes the involvement of the health tech companies in the political space.
There’s no magic bullet, it won’t be as easy as taking a pill or downloading an app. It’s a multifaceted approach, such as building more sidewalks, innovating policy and implementing new laws that impact health.
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