Start ups and researchers are exploring the potential of digital mood trackers: machine learning predictions of well-being that catch drifts in emotional state. These measure behaviour like speed of typing and voice note recognition to detect people who are becoming anxious, low in mood, or feeling lonely or self-critical. Apps like Mood Tracker already use manual inputs to help diagnose and prevent acute bipolar relapses. Now, researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds are working on ways to embed mood tracking into our online activity and leverage AI to deliver support when a person needs it most. For example, stepping in to soothe anxiety in real time with personalised well-being interventions like a breathing exercise. Offering a welcome balm for the effects of tech on our psyches, too.
Such as those promoting neuroplasticity and biopsychosocial models of understanding illness. Apps like Curable and Nerva use the latest neuroscience research and mindbody tools to help people regulate their nervous systems and recover from conditions like chronic pain, depression and IBS.
On the topic of gut health, we’re also starting to understand the critical role of the microbiome and nutrition in mental health, overall health and prevention of chronic disease. Health tech innovation here includes Pragma Bio’s use of real-world data and synthetic biology to find microbiome-fueled treatments for complex chronic illness. DayTwo is also targeting the microbiome with database-informed solutions to change the outlook of chronic diseases – their patented AI can predict personal blood sugar responses in people with type 2 diabetes, before they’ve taken a bite.
It will require more research, support, education and healthcare buy-in in the years to come. Even then, our new tools for health continue to compete with the demands of our current ways of living. And such biopsychosocial approaches to care – looking at the full picture of human health and empowering people to treat themselves – are useful to complement proper understandings and treatment delivered by traditional healthcare. Where there is still improvement to be made.
So, the future where we can shift attitudes toward health and apply tools to prevent disease on a wide scale may seem a far reach today. But these innovations, and the work of those carving new paths to treatment, help us see how we might already have more control over our vitality than we think.