Can Microsoft Surface scare patients to health?

So what if your own condition, all your current medical readings, and your current food intake, were placed in front of you, on Microsoft Surface, by your doctor? With family and friends and your boss by your side?

BBC America “You Are What You Eat” starring Gillian McKeithMicrosoft Surface remains one of the great under-used breakthroughs of 2007.

It seems to require an immense investment in hardware and training for fairly simple improvements in usability.

Not even CNN is using Surface out-of-the-box, instead using Jeff Han's Perceptive Pixel for its "Magic Map".

Microsoft continues to retain high hopes for Surface, with plans to put it into desktop and even laptop units by 2012.

What is holding them up are applications.

This brings me to my earlier story about bringing wellness down-market and a demo being given at a Gartner health summit this week.

Texas Health Resources of Dallas calls it a doctor-patient relationship tool, offered as a proof of concept.

I call it "scared skinny."

My application of this THR idea comes from a BBC show, You Are What You Eat. Since the Beeb is government-funded much of its programming must meet social goals while trying to entertain, and this show certainly tries.

Host Gillian McKeith spends 8 weeks with her "clients," teaching better eating habits and demonstrating, visually, what bad habits cost.

We can't all get on TV, and for most of us the show is pure entertainment, not relevant to our own condition.

So what if your own condition, all your current medical readings, and your current food intake, were placed in front of you, on Microsoft Surface, by your doctor? With family and friends and your boss by your side?

Such an "intervention" might cost a few hundred dollars to set up, but it's an investment your employer's health insurer might get back many-fold.

It's true, as commenters here like to say, that our ill health comes down to our own bad choices. It's also true that the state can have only a limited role in getting people to straighten up and eat right.

But technology, working within our current system, can also play its part, and it will be fun seeing whether the THR effort moves in this direction.