Health is everywhere – seeing health in JWT’s Top 100 Trends for 2014

JWT-100-Things-to-Watch-in-2014-1Of 100 broad-based trends to expect in 2014, most relate in some way to health. I’ve reviewed every one of the 100 forecast points in JWT’s 100 Things to Watch in 2014 report, and it seems Health is Everywhere. Let me point out many, which I’ve allocated to health-ified buckets (note that JWT organizes the list of 100 by alphabet, from “A” to “Z,” so they are not in any prioritized or strategic order).

The most direct-health impacting bucket of trends are those in health tech. These include E-cigarette regulation (#35), Glassware (#42), Haptic technology (#46), Needle-free vaccines (#64), Oculus Rift (#65), OTT TV (#66), Telediagnostics (#90), Telepresence robots (#91), and Vaping lounges (#95). Some of these are already impacting public health, such as needle-free vaccines, telediagnostics (like uChek mobile tech that enables mobile urine analysis for consumers) and robots like RP-Vita that enable telehealth between clinical experts on “Pill Hill” and academic medical centers consulting with folks in the hinterlands. The Oculus Rift technology could be a platform for psycho-therapeutic support, akin to the next-generation of Second Life for dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Food is a health input, and JWT notes several trends that could impact health including Fast food tofu (#39), Homemade baby food delivery (#49), Stealth health (#86), and Vegetable co-stars (#96). Stealth health is an important trend, ushered in and bolstered by New York City’s just-exiting “health mayor” Mike Bloomberg who, whether you see him as “urban innovator” or “meddling nanny,“ brought nutritional awareness to Manhattan. A Chick-fil-A dietitian told JWT stealth health happens when the food chain “tweaks” patrons favorite products without being too transparent. That’s because, as a spokesperson from the Lyfe Kitchen chain has said, “we don’t sell health, we sell taste.”

Product innovations that may impact health encompass Algae (#5), Breath analysis (#19), Feel-good fashion (#40), Messaging apps as retail channel (#59), Semiautonomous cars (#76), and Smart vending machines (#79). Algae is an interesting one that’s impacted my own skin health, as I began to use the product Algenist (cited by JWT) in 2013 which has positively impacted the texture of my complexion. Breath analysis (not the police version but via breath sensors that can interpret breathing patterns and recommend, in real-time, strategies for the consumer to adopt to benefit their physical or mental health. Vending machines notoriously push unhealthy foods, but vending machines could be designed to nudge people wanting to eat more healthy through game designs incorporating behavioral economics and smart-couponing that discounts healthier fare.

Tech innovations that could impact health in 2014 are Ambient commerce (#6), Catering to chemical sensitivities (#20), Glanceable UI (#41), Hacking’s new frontier (#45), and Speaking visually (#84). An example of Ambient commerce for wellness could be employing Nike+ technology to ship a new pair of running shoes to the consumer once a pair “reaches” 300 miles of wear. Speaking visually could be transformational in health: JWT called this out as one of 10 Trends for 2014 as its potential is tremendous across many sectors. In health, visual cues could replace text for a great many communications in health care delivery where words alone – say, in complicated clinical instructions for taking meds, or in explaining a difficult diagnosis to someone who speaks another language – don’t ensure optimal health outcomes.

Social movements such as Community-support everything (#24), Demonizing food dyes (#30), Digital grieving (#32), Equal rights for men (#37), Heads-up movement (#48), The marijuana market (#57), Privacy by design (#69), Privacy marketplace (#70), The social divide (#82), Survival of the focused (#87), and Unconventional models (#94) could all re-shape health in various respects. Digital grieving is particular intriguing for “21st century mourners,” as JWT says: as our society becomes more mobile and disparate, digital platforms can bring people together for grieving, and also serve to enable and ensure digital advance directives. The move toward Unconventional models, seen particularly outside of the U.S., looks to people missing limbs, for example, or balding due to chemotherapy, to be more inclusive and break stereotyped definitions of “beauty.”

All industries expected to engage in health Edelman Health Barometer 2010Health Populi’s Hot Points: In my work on the 2010 Edelman Health Barometer survey in 2010, our team learned that consumers the world over expect virtually every industry sector to engage with people in health. The bar graph illustrates, for example, that 89% of consumers look to engage with food companies for health, 86% with media/entertainment groups, and 77% with financial services companies.

As people look for health engagement “everywhere,” businesses that respond with user-centered, engaging innovations that bolster health – sometimes in “stealth health” mode that doesn’t smack of health “care” but entertainment and enchantment instead — will generate trust and brand-love with consumers.

Clearly, health technology innovations will direct impact health care – next week’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show will unveil hundreds of shiny new things with the promise of the creative destruction of U.S. health care.

But among the various bucket-segments here, I think the social-movement category has the power to transform health care beyond food, technology, and products. These trends could support health reform from the ground up:

  • People coming together in communities for “community-support everything” (especially health care)
  • Equal rights for men, so that they can be caregivers and patients without being penalized at the workplace or in the gym
  • Survival of the focused, where we all become more mindful and adopt more “heads-up” approaches to living every day fully, and not tethered to technology 24×7, among other social trends.

Thanks to JWT for calling these 100 trends out for 2014; they give us creative clues for brainstorming opportunities to morph health that serves people where we live, work, play and pray.

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