“Are Health Apps the Cure for Anything that Ails You?” is the title of a post by Rochelle Sharpe in today’s The Health Care Blog . “With about 9,000 consumer health apps currently available in the iTunes store, it seems like almost all smart phone users can download their way to better health these days.”
Embedded in this statement is the assumption that data can lead to better health at the touch of an Icon. Unfortunately, data does not equal information, much less understanding.
When I was a Navy attack pilot, one of our capabilities was to conduct attacks on high-value targets which were protected by integrated air defense systems. Our intelligence officers provided lots of data – types of anti-aircraft weapons, types and numbers of surface to air missile systems , types of early warning radar or signal collection systems. All this data was interesting, but often just led to confusion. What was desired and needed for a successful strike were things like:
- Reaction time from first radar hit to getting a missile lock on our aircraft
- The realistic operational (as opposed to design) range and minimum altitude for a surface to air missile battery.
- I could go on, but you get the point.
In other words, I needed to know how these threats would operate and respond to our air strike. Answer to these questions required understanding, which rarely came from piles of data.
The fact that there are 9000 or so consumer health apps, would indicate that lots of folks are looking for answers to health and health care questions. For me the most effective path to understanding health is prayer, not technology. It’s moments, minutes and sometimes hours of quiet contemplation of spiritual truths. In my experience this is the best way to hit the target.