| 28.08.2023

Technological innovation by itself does not guarantee well-being and empowerment

We need to be aware of the many contradictions and pitfalls when designing technologies and technology-powered services that empower individual well-being.

In his doctoral dissertation "Every Piece Matters – Technology and Service Integration for Individual Empowerment," Fares Georges Khalil explores two settings where accelerating technological developments affect individual health and well-being: personal tracking / sensing technologies, and digital platforms that use these technologies to connect patients and caregivers in the pursuit of integrated healthcare.

“The potential of sensing technologies, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other developments are paving the way for a future where individuals are empowered, professionals are equipped, and society reaps the benefits of streamlined, efficient, and holistic care”, says Khalil.

However, amid much techno-optimism, Khalil’s research highlights many contradictions that need to be teased out such as the fact that smart technologies often inadvertently cause disempowerment, for example by being a source of negative feedback to the user and causing feelings of constraint - the opposite of the intended design. Another example is that empowerment often requires supporting the user to develop their abilities in order to benefit from “the positive empowerment spiral” as Khalil put it.  

In health care, there is a vision for developing digital platforms and using new technologies to help reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and empower patients and doctors. 

“Also here my research revealed many challenges, such as the need for collaboration between healthcare providers to coordinate complex patient journeys which currently contradicts the thinking and logics of our organisations”, Khalil points out. “There are many obstacles to overcome, some to do with nurturing the right values and developing a shared vision of technological empowerment, and others related to the inertia in our institutions and the incentives driving developments”, he continues.

You can read the whole thesis here:
Every Piece Matters – Technology and Service Integration for Individual Empowerment Opens in new window

The doctoral defence of Fares Georges Khalil takes place on Thursday, 31 August at 12:00 EEST at Hanken School of Economics and in Teams. You can join the defence via this link.

Opponent: Professor Bo Edvardsson, Karlstad University
Custos: Professor Kristina Heinonen, Hanken School of Economics