By Jodie Carter

We cannot pretend to predict the technological breakthroughs of the next decade, as they no doubt will involve many concepts that we are not fully aware of today. However, some trends to watch in the next year include:

* Expect to see an increasing use of semantic web technology in which machines interpret data more intelligently in order to better perform various tasks on our behalf. (For example, increasing the usability of the search function.)

* Look for more mobile applications for personal health management, including apps that use social connections to help people challenge and motivate each other.

* Keep your eye on health gaming, which continues to show promise in improving everything from diet and exercise to medication compliance and smoking cessation. The basic idea is that while reading text or watching a video is relatively passive, playing a computer game is an active and immersible experience that demands complete concentration. While the mind is completely absorbed in playing a game, there is an “open channel” to the brain. Gamers have begun to use this channel to educate, and sometimes distract, as a means to achieve behavior change.

* Watch for new programs that wirelessly leverage personal data (physiological and emotional metrics sent from Bluetooth or ANT devices) for insights that can warn of and avoid problems, such as relapse, before they happen – and to be used to track “what happened” to avoid future mishaps.

With clearly defined goals and measurable outcomes, an EAP practitioner can successfully implement the best of this brave new world of health care technology in a workplace to provide accessible, effective, and affordable solutions.

Jodie Carter is the electronic product manager with Hazelden – www.hazelden.org. Another excellent source of information about online counseling and how technology is affecting EAP practitioners is the Online Therapy Institute – www.onlinetherapyinstitute.com. Watch for an online chat for EA professionals in the near future.

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