Visually impaired person using a smartwatch. LEHTIKUVA


As we navigate the realm of technological advancements, it's imperative to recognize that the mere presence of cutting-edge innovations doesn't automatically guarantee improved well-being and empowerment for individuals. The intersections of these technologies with human lives are laden with potential conflicts and pitfalls that require careful consideration.

Fares Georges Khalil delves into this intricate web of relationships between technology, health, and empowerment in his doctoral dissertation titled "Every Piece Matters – Technology and Service Integration for Individual Empowerment."

The study focuses on two key scenarios where rapid technological evolution intersects with people's health and well-being: personal monitoring/sensor technologies and digital platforms that utilize these technologies to facilitate integrated healthcare delivery connecting patients and healthcare providers.

"While the potential offered by sensor technologies, artificial intelligence, cloud services, and other trends points to a future where individuals are empowered, professionals have resources, and society reaps the benefits of streamlined, comprehensive care, it's crucial to acknowledge the nuanced landscape," says Khalil.

Despite the prevailing techno-optimism, Khalil's research underscores several underlying conflicts. For instance, smart technologies sometimes inadvertently undermine empowerment by providing users with negative feedback or generating feelings of confinement – a stark contrast to their intended purpose. Another example is that empowerment often necessitates support for users to develop skills, enabling them to benefit from a "positive empowerment loop," as Khalil phrases it.

In the healthcare sector, there's a drive to develop digital platforms and harness new technologies to reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and empower both patients and medical professionals.

"Even here, my research uncovered various challenges. Coordinating complex patient pathways requires increased collaboration among healthcare stakeholders, which currently contradicts the prevalent mindset and logic of our organizations," Khalil notes.

"The journey is riddled with obstacles. Some are tied to upholding the right values and developing a shared vision of technological empowerment, while others are related to the inertia of our institutions and the incentives driving our development," he continues.

The full dissertation is available here: Every Piece Matters – Technology and Service Integration for Individual Empowerment

Fares Georges Khalil's doctoral defense is scheduled for Thursday, August 31st, at 12:00 PM at Hanken School of Economics, with remote access available via Teams. The event can be attended through this link.