Technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives — and health is no exception. Individuals can use apps to track a multitude of health and fitness related data, such as number of hours of sleep and how many steps were taken in a day.

However, it’s important not to overlook the human aspect of technology, according to Chris Dancy, chief digital officer and senior vice president at Healthways. “These smartphones are dumb without you,” he said Wednesday at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit in Orlando, Fla. “All the technology in the world can’t do anything if it’s in a pile on the floor.”

We must be careful to keep technology from replacing the human element, Dancy said. “Machines are consistently average and humans are inconsistently delightful,” he said. “We like things to be regular, but we shouldn’t do it at the cost of getting rid of the people in our lives.”

Dancy, who’s referred to as “the world’s most connected human,” knows better than most what it’s like to be ensconced in technology. He uses hundreds of devices and applications to track and analyze his life.

While he did lose more than 100 pounds thanks to some of that data, people still need to do the work, he said. “You don’t get better by counting steps, you get better by taking them,” Dancy said.

He also cautioned against the invasion of privacy technology can have. Companies want to use sensors to gain personal health information, and consumers who agree are trading their privacy for a price, Dancy said. “We’re about to design solutions on the platform you call your life,” he said.

Data can also be used negatively — Dancy has overheard conversations where one person is putting another person down while comparing health statistics. Co-workers shouldn’t be compared by those numbers, he said, they should be compared by how they treat each other. “You are not your data,” Dancy said.

Considering the human element is essential as new technology enters the health care space, Dancy said. “We don’t need to humanize technology, we need to start humanizing humans,” he said. “If you want to disrupt your programs, meet with people.” 

 

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