All this prompted me to ask him at what point payers will offer substantial rewards (i.e., lower premiums) to those who prove they are taking better care of themselves through programs such as Wellocracy.
"I think that's a great question," Kvedar says. "I'm going to switch gears and use a different example in my portfolio of examples, and that's Healthrageous. That's a company that we spun out of our Center a couple years ago. All these approaches have the same things in common: the feedback loops, and the social stickiness factor and so forth, but they're bringing that product line to health plans and employers. They have one particular relationship that speaks exactly to your point, which is a relationship with a large payer in California. The people that are enrolled in that particular insurance product, in order to maintain a low premium, must be on the Healthrageous platform, and demonstrate that they're healthy."
So how does all this affect Kvedar's day job at Partners?
"It's a passion that I have, so you tend to do things and not think a lot about them when you really believe," he says. "I really believe that if we got more people tracking, we'd be a healthier society, and I want to test that hypothesis. With the advent of new payment models and the consolidation between the payer industry and the provider industry, providers will start to take on more wellness programs, and if they do, then we will have a firsthand, well-above-the-curve, knowledge base of how consumers adopt this stuff, based on this project."
How will a world of sensors will tackle the daunting problem of mental health?
"There's probably 20 companies out there building various sensors that can detect levels of emotion, and it's really the early, early, early days," he says. "It's like the body tracking sensors were 15 years ago." He points to biofeedback—"not a new concept"—as a harbinger of what's to come.
"Whenever we at the Center have done projects to give people the freedom to make good choices, inevitably they make good choices," but they want to be connected back to their healthcare providers, Kvedar says. Whether through the clinic, the Web, the app, or the ebook, technology is the great change agent for Kvedar and other leaders of his stature.