Roseville-based consulting firm Direct Technology hangs its hat on its focus on the human side of tech. That focus got a lot more literal when an employee signed up for Project Baseline, a massive study by Alphabet-owned Verily Life Sciences aimed at developing a “baseline” of human health by studying every aspect of 10,000 people’s physical well-being over the next five years.
Over the course of two days, our colleague underwent a bevy of tests and observation, ranging from a cardiac stress echo and chest MRIs, to walking laps in a hallway and exhaling in patterns into a tube, to collecting saliva and placing strips of paper into her eyes to collect tears. Going forward, she’ll wear a smartwatch that sends data to the Project Baseline team, keep a sleep sensor under her mattress, use a proprietary nutrition app, and reappear for annual physicals and quarterly blood draws for as long as the project maintains funding.
Why does an IT consulting firm like Direct Technology care about medical studies like Project Baseline? The short answer is that nothing exists in a vacuum. The questions Verily is asking, and the tech they are using to answer them, are innate to the mission of Direct Technology:
Fulfilling the Promise of Technology
One of the founding principles of Direct Technology is that people drive technology, not the other way around. When our company builds tech, it’s not for the sake of building something—it’s because people need it, or people want it. To our team, Project Baseline is an interesting study in the human side of tech because it focuses on integrated technologies and analytics with the purpose of learning something enormous about humanity.
For example, the smart watch used by Project Baseline not only records personal data such as the wearer’s steps and heart rate, but also environmental factors such as UV rays and air quality. Combined with the sleep sensor, app, etc., researchers receive a holistic view that, once combined with data from thousands of other people, may answer a vast array of questions. What environmental or lifestyle conditions create the conditions for an epidemic? How can we prevent an outbreak? How can we optimize insurance for everyone based on Americans’ health needs? Answering these through the power of analytics truly fulfills the promise of technology.
Technology Is For Everyone
Another principle of Direct Technology is that tech is for everyone. Project Baseline is looking for a baseline of human health—not the pinnacle. The study needs participants with fibromyalgia, diabetes, a history of cancer, and all manner of other conditions in order to begin solving overarching health questions. Similarly, Direct Technology uses tech to solve business problems for all fields, including medicine.
Over the past 20 years, we have worked with healthcare entities such as Sutter Health, Western Health Advantage, and HealthNet for a myriad of IT and staffing needs. Relevant to our interest in Project Baseline, Direct Technology is also a Google Partner. Basically, we believe that partnerships between organizations with diverse missions and methods spurs growth across all of them. Together, we make life better, through tech, for everyone.
Business Success Through Employee Engagement
While Project Baseline’s goals and methods do complement those of Direct Technology, our team is excited about our colleagues taking part in the study particularly because companies do best when their employees care about the company’s work. At Direct Technology, a focus on research, analytics, business intelligence, and using tech to improve systems and lives is important to our company—and seeing individuals follow personal interests in data, innovation, and IoT demonstrates that our core missions are important to employees, too.
But perhaps the most important mission of all that Project Baseline and Direct Technology have in common is that we believe in health. Prioritizing the human side of tech means understanding that people are not just their job. For that reason, Direct Technology sponsors employees in running races, boasts an employee fitness club with rewards for things like holding a walking meeting, and maintains a wellness committee whose purpose is to provide healthy outlets for our teammates. Ultimately, if you don’t have your health, you can’t do your job.
On the flip side, if your organization understands health—and you use data analytics and smart tech to achieve that understanding—you’re well on your way to higher performance, more innovation, and a more secure future for everyone in your business.