Health
Care
Trends
— 2017

New healthcare technologies are creating a new standard of personalised diagnosis and treatment. Artificial intelligence, big data, tiny robots and micro sensors are revolutionising our understanding of the human body.

The days of a ‘one size fits all’ approach in healthcare are over.

Future Trends in Healthcare

Connecting the dots to provide clarity for clinicians

Advances in technology are creating a new standard of personalised diagnosis and treatment. Artificial intelligence, big data, tiny robots and micro sensors are revolutionising our understanding of the human body. Services that are able to give clinicians and patients a clear overview of a patient’s data across all stages of care would be groundbreaking, from connected devices and wearables to scans and blood tests. Companies will need to collaborate to integrate patients information in one place.

Actionable technology will save lives

Healthcare professionals are already able to gain a complete picture of a patient’s prognosis, with IBM’s Watson; a cognitive system that understands how to turn data into useful knowledge. It has the potential to save many lives; for example, in intensive care wards, nurses and doctors can manage multiple cases, and be notified if a situation is critical and needs to be dealt with immediately.

Beyond human capabilities

Robotics surgery offers high-precision procedures beyond the abilities of what the human hand can handle, allowing new innovative surgeries to be developed. Robotics is currently being used in eye surgery where surgeons are able to use a joystick and touchscreen to move the robot by tiny movements.

Smart devices will increase the success rate of aftercare

Post treatment technologies send information to doctors to help monitor a patient’s progress. Just one such digital healthcare trend is the innovative use of microchips to monitor patients with chronic heart failure by Cardiologists at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Miniature wireless sensors were inserted into the patient’s pulmonary artery and alerted doctors of any decline in their condition, even before they experience any symptoms.

Idea:

What if smart suits embedded with micro sensors could provide recommendations to help post operative patients with hip replacements move and behave better for recovery?

Empowering people to take control of their own health by using integrated services.

Emerging Healthcare Trends

Increases in self serve health products

With the advent of low cost digital health wearables and intelligent services, people have become active managers of their own health and demand a more consumer-friendly healthcare experience. Companies like 23andme allow people to analyse their own genetics by highlighting genetic risk factors, traits and inherited conditions. As a customer of 23andme, you agree to give up your data for research when you do the DNA test for such a small amount of money. This allows 23andme to do groundbreaking research, as they hold lots of data about people all around the world. The DNA test is a small service they offer in order to collect the data.

Customers want simple services with high impact

Services that require little effort and ‘don’t make customers think’ are more likely to have an increased adoption rate to services that are more complex. A forward thinking engineer, Ridhi Tariyal, has already patented a way for women to capture their menstrual cycle and transform it into medical samples. This allows for women to test for early warning signs of cancer and reproductive diseases.

Consumers understand health data is valuable

Services with added benefits for example that link up to your finances will make consumers think twice about leveraging their personal information for financial gain. This is predicted to be seen in the health insurance market where the business model for paying for treatment isn’t cost effective, and prevention is the new model. With the use of wearables consumers can lower their premiums by making better health choices. Services such as Vitality offer private healthcare and reward customers based on how active they are, the more active the better the rewards.

Services will need to build trust with their customers

Consumers will have to put their trust in services to provide them with accurate results and a offer a service that can answer all their questions at different phases of the service from brand awareness, through to delivery and post sales. Companies that do what they say and have an authentic message will have a clearer service offering. We see this in the recent Smart Energy GB adverts, where a supermarket cashier estimates the price of the shopping based on the weight of a bag, alluding to the fact that the energy industry is broken and the notion of estimated bills is poor service. The ending tagline is ‘ We don’t do estimates’ and smart meters are coming.

Idea:

What if we could offer reporting to people who want to reduce drinking by linking their location and credit card to allow them to track goals and see the regular weak spots such as the local pub?

Prevention of illness will be one of the biggest moves in healthcare from treating the ill, to a combined model of prevention and treatment.

Behaviours matter

Detrimental health behaviours cause 60% of deaths and long term conditions are responsible for 70% of NHS costs. Only about a third to a half of people take their medications correctly according to betterconversations.com, a website geared towards promoting health coaching among healthcare professionals.

Patients often find it hard to improve their health as they aren’t sure how to go about introducing new habits or phasing out bad habits. This can cause healthcare professionals to become frustrated, when patients are coming back with recurring problems, and traditional industry methods of prescribing medicine, or suggesting a new diet and exercise regime don’t help.

Understanding people is key

Behavioural economics, unlike traditional marketing approaches, acknowledge humans behave in an irrational manner and don’t always do the expected. Few of the traditional marketing strategies for healthcare, such as anti-smoking and obesity, have actually been effective when it comes down to changing behaviours.

So, what are the barriers for behaviour change?

One of the barriers for people taking an active role in their own health is Loss Aversion. This refers to the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are up to twice as psychologically powerful as gains.

This explains why it’s hard for people to see the benefits of healthy eating and exercising as there are immediate losses. For example chocolate tastes good and exercise takes time and effort while the long term benefits of better health and lower risk of disease are less tangible and distant.

Key takeaways to encourage behaviour change

1
Offering a personalised action plan through understanding people's weaknesses and strengths is key for behaviour change.
2
Focus on smaller short term goals to help customers see more immediate benefits.
3
Social Norming and proofing (giving people feedback based on how other people are doing compared to their own progress.) can be a powerful motivators.

Healthcare will become embedded in our daily lives, from employee wellness to rewards for being active.

Healthy businesses will prosper

Brands will be judged on how healthy they are and how they run their businesses from supermarkets to banks. Social health responsibility will be shared and encouraged amongst all companies and brands.

For example Aldi have launched their own organic fresh fruit and vegetable range, after listening to customer feedback. Prices will range from 79p to £1.49 making organic food an affordable purchase. Other supermarkets and brands will feel pressured to follow suit and provide better quality food for less.

More value will be placed on employee wellcare

Employee health and wellbeing initiatives, are reducing stress levels and loss of productivity from absences and presenteeism. Executives at Microsoft took part in a resilience programme by David Peters at the University of Westminster. The executives were asked to keep a diary of their activities whilst their heart rate, breathing and stress hormone levels were monitored.

By combining medical data and a diary study they were able to see how well executives coped with stress and how effectively they recovered from it. Behaviours and actions that hindered recovery were identified and executives were able to understand how they worked and what impact this had on their performance.

Improving employee experiences and engagement at work

Other companies such as Purina, a pet food company owned by Nestle introduced a programme to allow employees at its UK office to bring their dogs to work. The benefits were quickly seen as the animals prompted conversations between workers who did not normally talk to each other, gave staff a break to walk them and eased stress by being there to be stroked. Nestlé monitors the effects of the health initiatives against the business case and estimates that absences from ill health cost it 2.5 per cent of the total payroll.

Mindfulness increases employee happiness

Another way companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs, Intel and are reducing stress is through mindfulness, which teaches people to be in the moment and is more about ‘being’ than ‘doing’. It helps people “pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally” (Tan, 2010). Mr Tan an employee at Google, and author of Search Inside Yourself uses scientific evidence about neuroscience to provide evidence on how mindfulness can make us happier. An easy way to start being mindful is using the app Headspace which provides meditation and guidance to help people train their brain to be more focused and worry less.

" In the workplace, Headspace can be used both proactively to set people up for the day ahead and reactively at any point to meet the day’s challenges. It’s reassuring to know people have a tool they can go to whenever needed."

Debbie, General Electric

Experiences as treatments could reduce the need for drugs and improve brain activity.

Digital Healthcare Trends

Experiences help make people better

Virtual reality, gaming and real experiences will be prescribed as treatments to reduce the need for pain or anxiety type drugs. Brain training games will be used to prevent illness and rehabilitate patients with brain injuries.

Virtual reality is effective for pain relief

A virtual reality game “Snow World” was given to children with severe burn injuries to aid pain relief at Shriners Hospital in Galveston. Severe pain is experienced by most patients during the the wound care and dressing changes. The current care uses an opioid analgesic drug to reduce the pain as they rest motionless. However, higher doses and side effects can cause problems. The game “Snow World” offered a distraction to children during treatment and proved to be effective. It is predicted children with burn injuries may experience up to 35 – 40 % less pain and discomfort with the use of VR games.

Social prescribing creates a sense of community

Holistic approaches to healthcare are being introduced to GP surgeries, with the use of social prescribing that recommends types of activities for patients in their local communities. It is being prescribed at an individual level and aims to tackle illnesses like depression. The aim is to encourage social interaction and help create meaningful relationships with people who live in the same area. Group activities such as fishing, football and gardening are helping people with illness and without illness to stay active and engaged.

Brain training improves health and wellbeing

Speed training, is a game that involves improving the speed and accuracy at which the brain can process visual information, at the centre of the gaze and on the periphery. It has proven effective in reducing the risk of dementia by half. The ten year study called ACTIVE proved how effective one type of brain training could be. Other benefits of the training include, improved cognitive function, better health and mood, more self-confidence and fewer car crashes.

Motivational games help patients feel more positive

Another virtual reality game MindMotionPro was developed for early motor rehabilitation in stroke patients. The immersive virtual reality programme is put together based on your personal recovery goals. Patients wear a motion tracking device and are asked to do training exercises founded in neuroscience with the aim to increase the likelihood and longevity of the training sessions. The hospital solution has proved to be successful and leaves patients feeling more positive.

"Before starting the session, I was depressed, I felt my life was not worth living. For me playing with the MindMaze game it is the best moment of the day in hospital."

Patient experience of MindMotion Pro