The most effective, engaging, and enchanting digital health innovations speak to patients beyond their role as health consumers and caregivers: digital health is at its best when it addresses peoples’ health citizenship.

I had the great experience brainstorming the convergence of digital health, wearable tech, user-centered (UX) design, and health citizenship with João Bocas, @WearablesExpert, in a on his podcast.

And if those topics weren’t enough, I wove in the role of LEGO for our well-being, “playing well,” and inspiring STEM- and science-thinking.

João and I started our chat first defining health citizenship, which is a phrase I first learned from European Commission bioinformatics leader Jean-Claude Healy whom I met when I first worked in Europe. After hearing the words “health citizenship,” the concept stayed with me over the years I’d been working as an advisor to the health/tech industry across every part of the health ecosystem.

Once I actually became a health citizen in the EU, I’ve made the personal professional, incorporating the concept as part of my work on ESG principles in health care with my clients and collaborators.

The coronavirus pandemic has surely revealed the importance of public health and the nature of the fragile safety net for people under-served and left out of health/care access.

Our chat then segued to how digital health tools and platforms can help scale health and well-being to address barriers to the social determinants of health and well-being, when well-intended and enchanting design can do good and do well at the same time. THINK: food security, transportation, on-line scheduling, expanding access to mental and behavioral health programs, and bolstering peoples’ digital access and literacy especially among people long under-served by the brick-and-mortar health care system.

We concluded with João’s signature question of “1 Minute of Fame,” an open-ended ask for me to riff on anything I felt like riffing on. I noted that the day before was International Day of the Girl, giving a shout-out to my daughter (a delightful digital designer herself) as well as LEGO and our family’s LEGOmaniacal ways.

“LEGO” from its Danish roots was named as such based on the words “Leg Godt,” meaning “Play Well.” My end-note was a call-to-action for all of us in the health care ecosystem to Play Well.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Part of Playing Well in health care, globally, is to keep Health Citizenship in mind when conceiving, planning for, and designing health care products and services.

There are four key pillars to Health Citizenship, as I discuss in my book titled just that (with the sub-title: “How a virus opened hearts and minds”).

First, healthcare access for all — as a civil right.

Second: digital citizenship, bolstering privacy (a la the GDPR or California’s CCPA) which ensures people as health citizens (and citizens overall) have a right to be forgotten and to control their personal data.

Third: trust as a precursor to civil engagement. Without trust, there’s no commons or collective respect to nurture public health and other broad commitments and objectives to making life better for everyone.

Fourth, finally, let’s imagine together a new social contract of love, as in Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

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