Session Description: Will tech help us stay healthier? How will digital tools assist patients and help the system improve?

An excerpt of the Health not Healthcare panel is below, but the full transcript can be accessed here.

Kirkpatrick: We’re going to start with a big picture discussion about how technology plays a role, or doesn’t play a role, in helping us all as a nation, as individuals, and as a planet be healthier.

Now, let me start by introducing the panelists. Yonatan Adiri is Israeli. He worked with Shimon Peres for many years as his chief technology officer when he was President of Israel. Now he’s an entrepreneur, but he’s very global and he’s got a lot to say about things he learned as a government official, but also since he’s been an entrepreneur, and he’ll tell us a little bit about his company in a second.

Esther Dyson, many of you know, one of the great thinkers of technology on the planet, been around for a long time—along with me.


And I’ve been there the whole time pretty much, Esther. But Esther really has maintained a big picture about tech for many, many decades, and interestingly, is now focused very, very heavily on healthcare. So we’ll hear her explain why she’s taken healthcare as such a personal crusade, as you will learn.

Len Greer—all right, let me get the exact title of the group. Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions.Just quickly describe what that is, Len.

Greer: We make those beautiful red folders that you have in front of you.


No, actually, we are a center of excellence of sorts at J&J, so our reason for being is really about putting behavior science and technology to work in all of the J&J businesses and for our strategic customers around the world.

Kirkpatrick: Great. And I’ll come back to that in a second. Finally, Christian Madsbjerg of ReD Associates.

You are kind of a big picture strategist, but even like a corporate sociologist, is that a fair way of putting it? Just quickly describe how you think about what you do, Christian.

Madsbjerg: The sociologist piece is probably the most precise. So it’s trying to understand people and our practices and our behaviors and how we find our way around in the world and use that to figure out what to make.

Kirkpatrick: And you spend a lot of time on healthcare, but also other industries.

Madsbjerg: I think half of the time is health.

Kirkpatrick: Yeah. Fantastic. I want to start asking you a couple of questions, Len, and then I think everyone else on the panel will have similar things to chime in on. We’ve been so excited to start working with Johnson & Johnson, which I have to admit, I did not realize how big and influential and—they are really the only global company that is valued comparably to Google and Facebook that’s not a tech company. It’s really amazing how big and important they are. And they’re actually kind of a modest company. They just do great stuff. So we’re happy to have them here explaining themselves a little more. But when you think about technology as a tool in healthcare, what do you think about?

Greer: Well, I think it’s insufficient. There’s lots of fun discussion about the application of technology—and actually, you said we’re not defined as a tech company. Our leadership would increasingly say we are. So the application of technology in healthcare is really important. It has great potential. But I say it’s insufficient because there’s so many examples, and we were discussing some before the panel, so many examples of technology being thrown at problems and not getting the outcomes, health outcomes or financial outcomes that anyone is looking for, or engagement. And that’s because a couple of key ingredients are often absent. One of them is person-centered design, really thoughtful design of tools that work in the reality of one’s life as a consumer or patient. And the other is thoughtful behavior science. So when we put our tools to work, we’re really focused on trying to drive healthy behaviors, getting people to take their medications, see their doctors, screen themselves, eat right, exercise, sleep, all of those things that we all know are really important but they’re really hard to do. And our focus is figuring out what’s really going to motivate people and using that as fuel for behavior change.

So to me and to us, it’s really about getting all those ingredients right, knowing clinically what’s important, knowing what behaviors are going to drive to the outcomes, designing something that makes a lot of sense and enabling it with technology.

Kirkpatrick: You even have a seven-minute workout that anybody can use.

Greer: Free app, download it now at the App Store.

Kirkpatrick: I only learned that this morning. I was thinking I should probably use that.

Greer: Yes. Yes. If you type Johnson & Johnson, when you get to H, it’s the app right after Papa John’s Pizza.


Kirkpatrick: Esther, did I detect that you had something to say?

Dyson: Yeah. And so as you were talking and saying I’m interested in healthcare, I’m actually interested in health. And I thought I would mention that, but then I realized, oh, that’s the name of the panel.

Kirkpatrick: I might’ve forgotten that, though. Go ahead.

Dyson: But I mean, this is the point. It is so hard to change your thinking. And going back to the numbers, the reason is those other countries spend more money on health, not with nurses and hospitals, but with early childhood education. My aunt was an almoner; she took care of unmarried mums back in the 1950s and 1960s in England. And so as you were talking, I was also thinking one thing that makes healthcare ineffective is the lack of health. Because if you’re addicted or you’re so poor you can’t buy good food or you don’t have time to use the seven-minute workout, that’s what makes all this care, most of it so futile. Because what we need to do is start investing in health, not renting it, so that later on, when something challenges you, you don’t need to buy your healthcare at extremely inflated prices and nonetheless ineffective, because—

Kirkpatrick: To solve problems that you in effect created by not focusing on other things—

Dyson: Yeah. I mean, the lack of health makes you vulnerable to all these other things, and it makes you also not able to do the kind of healthy living we all know we should do.

Kirkpatrick: Before we—I’m sure Christian and Yonatan both have thoughts on that, but quickly talk about what you are doing, because I think people should know that.

Dyson: Yeah. So I’m helping—a team of five, we’re called Way to Wellville, as in The Road to Wellville, the book by T. Coraghessan Boyle. We’re helping five small godforsaken, discrete, confined US communities invest in health, and our goal is not so much to help those communities but to have those communities become role models for other communities to say if those guys is Muskegon could do it, so can we.