Health Token Economies
With the rise of big data, IoT, wearable devices, mobile computing and personalized health sensing technologies the world of health is set to get flooded with a wealth of new data in the coming decades. This offers us the possibility to expand health systems out into the everyday world, the informal world of health where people make their everyday choices that really affect their health outcomes; to buy a car or walk to work; to purchase the chocolate cookies or the rice crackers; to go clubbing at the weekend or go hiking; whether we should build another park or another car park; another green way or another shopping mall. These are the things that really determine peoples health now that most of us live in industrial economies.
Now that we have identified that these behavioural and environmental factors are the key indicators of chronic disease and NCDs; now that we have all this data to actually identify in an analytical way what creates and what depletes from our health; now that we have all this computational capacity to actually deal with that data, the challenge is designing structures that use that information to influence people’s actions towards those that lead to overall health outcomes.
This is really a question of building the right feedback loops into the system. We want to build feedback loops that incentivize healthy behavior while dampening down those that are not. Take for example Facebook’s like feature, this is really there to help train you to create more interesting content, those lights represent your growing mastery in creating posts that people find interesting as it works to create better content overall by incentivizing people in that direction.
Token economies are the same except that they are a slightly more powerful form of incentive that is based upon a distributed network. Lympo is one such example of a blockchain based token economy for health. Lympo fitness wallet functions as an entry to the ecosystem allowing a user to create a profile, fill in their health data and connect it to their favorite sports and health tracking apps. The individual data submitted via Lympo fitness wallet is made accessible to its user and can be viewed or shared. Participants receive system tokens if they complete a healthy lifestyle goal such as running a certain number of kilometers, following a particular diet. Members who check into a health facility, a gym or other sporting location for a certain amount of time are also rewarded with tokens.
With all this data we can really start to bring every aspect of the health equation into play and learn how to design systems that actually harness all aspects of health; biological, economic, social, cultural. In so doing we can overlay the existing system, that is primarily about the physical dimension to health, with a behavioral and cultural level and we can do this through gamification. Games are all about psychology, engaging people on a behavioral level. Already we are starting to see major innovations in mobile technology, from mobile apps that use games to make carbohydrate counting fun to those that quantify mood fluctuation based on physical activity – being able to detect oncoming periods of depression from this.
By engaging the behavioral aspects of a person’s health, we start to ask questions like, how can we use information to help people think about their health or their condition in a different way? What is your current personal paradigm, or that of your community or organization, with respect to health and its delivery? What mental models or subtle cultural influences may be hindering successful health promotion activities in your practice or community? How might we go about changing them? With data, we can start to create visualizations that connect people with the consequences of their actions and start to create a context within which they can re-interpret their health and the actions they take.