We know that health means more than healthcare.
At Alpha, we take health very seriously. Too often, health is described in terms of either illness or absence of illness, but it’s far more than this. We believe in a positive definition of health that encompasses everyday happiness and satisfaction with life, and we recognise that such a positive definition of health is actually very personal. For some of us, it’s perhaps as simple as a glorious day at the beach with your family or friends, or proving to yourself that you can run that 10k, or quitting smoking. For others, it could be finding the best path to finally working through our anxieties and worries.
This is not to belittle the importance of tackling illness. Illness is a growing problem across the world: costs have been increasing faster than GDP for more than 50 years at the same time as health outcomes plateau in many regions. Illness is also changing; in both developed and developing countries, the biggest killers and causes of disease are now the chronic diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes and mental health disorders have become the biggest killers and causes of disease. Put simply - since 2000, for every life saved from infections – we’ve lost two lives to chronic disease.
However, it’s now well-established that the main cause of chronic diseases is everyday behaviours such as our eating habits, the exercise we do (or don’t do), smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or lack of sleep. In fact, in 2008 the leading cause of death became personal choices.
Healthcare systems today are simply not designed to help people change these important everyday behaviours. To make tackling this challenge even harder, pioneers in behavioural economics and neuroscience have begun to understand that people are not even really in conscious control of their behaviour. We’re learning that attention is such a scarce resource that we make many decisions – big and small – using just our autopilots (and without much thought for the consequences). So, it turns out that the best way to tackle illness is to help people optimise their overall life satisfaction; there is strong evidence that people with the highest well being are less susceptible to, and cope better with, chronic diseases.
At Alpha, we believe that advances in neuroscience, mobile computing, and machine learning will now mean we can think the unthinkable and help people to take control of their own behaviour, optimise their life, and limit the effects of unhealthy behaviour on their bodies.
That’s why we’re helping people take more conscious control of their everyday actions.
We believe that doing this will help people to manage and prevent a range of chronic diseases and help make personal changes that will improve their satisfaction with their life. To achieve this, we are using digital insights and the smart interpretation of data to develop targeted tools, built around each user.
Of course, we recognize the myriad challenges involved in this work. We are working systematically with our team of diverse minds in science, engineering and design to build breakthrough solutions to meet these challenges head-on. To support our work, we are partnering with the best academics, developers and professionals around the world.
So, let’s start making a difference. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved with the Alpha Health mission today.