Being fascinated with the future, and having businesses where I have to look after the future of my clients' businesses and investments in healthcare, I'm always mindful of watching the trends to come and the timing of these waves of innovation.
January is a great time in the medtech world and a month of travel I relish. Usually, at this time of the year I'm planning to head to Los Angeles to attend Abundance 360 with Dr. Peter Diamandis. Just prior to that is, of course, CES and the JP Morgan Conference. It's always great to have these forward looking conferences kicking off the year and it sets the tone for the rest of the year.
This January kickoff is when I get a sense so one of the trends to come, what are the things to look for, really critical in order to then disseminate into the Periop Partner's our brands and services. It’s there to serve our client and partner network and influences our planning for what it is and how we can help our clients be prepared in their businesses.
If you're more of an audio person, you can find the video here.
Summary: 5 Trends from CES 2018 that will change the delivery of healthcare
- The Smart Connected Home
- Companion Robots (and serving the pointy ends of society)
- IOT + 5G = anytime everywhere
- The blending of Fashion and Healthcare
- Blockchain for Healthcare - narrowing the use cases
Trend 1: the smart connected home
I've talked about the smart connected home in a previous podcast, where we looked at the factors affecting aged care on aging in the home. The provision of "care in the home" services (and products provision) is going to be greatly assisted by the smart connected home. We also covered how Amazon is going to be one of the leading providers of "aged care services". The company will be instrumental in allowing an increasingly elderly population to stay in their homes longer and possibly access an even a higher quality of life in their own home.
As I alluded to in last week's cast, the business trend here is for these new Technologies to move into the extremes of the market not only is there an a well-established range for the highest level of spending in Healthcare at the extremes of Ages - the very young and the very old. More importantly, it is where the middle age consumers feel the most pressure to spend on retail-based healthcare devices and delivery systems.
This is connected with Trend 2: robots as replacements
for humans, not just in terms of mechanical eyes labour but for companionship also. Companion robots fill a gap generated by a number of different social trends, including:
- falling birth rate
- increasing elderly population and inverting population triangles, as well as
- the need to overcome wage costs and falling profits.
As seen in CES 2018, companies like Honda and Horizon are creating Companion Robots specifically targeted for the aged care market. These robots may not yet cross the uncanny valley: some resemble more like in inverted bowling pin plastered with emoticons, or an hyperactive Google Home - but, the companies' focus and progress of the technology are an indication that the technology is close. The next step for robots, with the help of AI, is to imitate facial expressions appropriately and show nuanced or complex emotions, such as compassion disappointment and empathy.
Trend 3: IOT + 5G = anytime everywhere
The rise of sensors being embedded into everything is juxtaposed with microprocessors being small enough to allow some degree of local processing and "device intelligence". Combined with 5G, the response time or latency will be drop exponentially - to the point where it's almost as if devices think, react and respond within the moment. One of the challenges for local healthcare devices and electronic-based services has been capturing and processing the volume of data, and then interpretating the data to generate an appropriate response. For human health professionals - we're already seeing more data points in each patient consultation than was ever historically taught to us - and arguably even processed in the research papers generating the "gold standard". For example, what is the statisticaly and treatment significance of an ECG every 6 seconds, when in med school we were all taught on 6-month ECGs? This volume of data is problematic for interpretation - not just because AI and other algorithmic approaches are "trained" on current doctor processes - but because we're now heading into the premise of "healthcare anytime and everywhere".
What the combination of processing and transmission speeds does allow is the practice of "healthcare anytime and everywhere": when it does so, a patient (personal economics notwithstanding) is no longer beholden to local service providers and facilities that are within their Geographic reach. I discuss more of this turning of the healthcare sandwich on its head in a special healthcare report series: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified when this will be available and receive the first chapter with no obligation.
Trend 4: The blending of Fashion and Healthcare
We saw it with L'Oreal UV patch
: the age of fashion or beauty staying in their own lane and healthcare in another lane is over.
Two things were impressive about this innovation - first, it is a battery-free, fashion-conscious wearable. The patch detects the amount of UV a wearer is exposed to from scan to scan: you activate it with an app and you scan it with the same app. It's suitable for monitoring children's
behaviours as well as adults'. Second, is that is heralds a "serious contender" entry of fashion and beauty houses - powered by their billions of dollars and market nous - coming into mainstream Healthcare. L'Oreal plans to release this patch to dermatologists and monitor other health data points. Good health has always been a measure of wealth and now good preventative health is going to be made more affordable to the masses.
Trend 5: Blockchain for Healthcare - narrowing the use cases
Blockchain or blockchain is going to be a discussion about technology in or a conference about technology if blockchain wasn't mentioned.
The number of technology vendors were on hand to discuss the potential application for blockchain.
I really like the way that Jaquie Finn, Head of Digital Health at Cambridge Consultants, summarised the use cases for blockchain that she sees most applicable:
"... if the data is dynamic; if the current solution that they are going to have is fragmented; and if there is a suspicion of malicious activity."
All of these cases apply at some point during the delivery of healthcare. Given the volume of data, the increase in conductivity and the concerns regarding privacy, stay tuned for applications of the blockchain in Healthcare particularly around insurance and verification - any complex situation where money is involved.
For bonus points: if you can, look up the blockchain in Healthcare event held in last year by medtech community group Peak15 in Melbourne and sponsored by ANZ Banking Group. Speaker Mr Sam Lee has spoken at Davos, and expressed clearly his ideas about blockchain applied to healthcare insurance.