The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was back in near-full force this year in a hybrid virtual-in-person model. And for the first time in CES history, a healthcare company was delivering a keynote address (Abbott). In fact, healthcare and digital wellness were prominent fixtures both in high-profile sessions and on the show floor.
Our trends team has simplified all the signals, innovations, and tech into five need-to-watch themes for 2022.
EMPHASIS ON DATA INTEROPERABILITY
Tech and healthcare leaders at CES unequivocally agree on one thing: the next battlefield of healthcare is in the home. As demographics shift, as devices and people become more connected, the “last mile” of healthcare delivery is critical when it comes to adherence, proactive wellness, and proactive sick care. We are poised to make an important shift from passively tracking wellness to actively engaging consumers around their data and driving behavior change. The key to unlocking this potential is interoperability of data, the ability for different platforms and systems to share and make use of data. According to a study by Accenture, between now and 2028, there’s a 200% growth rate expected in the global healthcare data interoperability market.
Why it matters: Delivering on interoperability makes customer experiences more fluid and enhances the utility of data and interventions. It also represents a growing need for all providers and stakeholders to be able to share portable and compatible data across systems, institutions, platforms, and countries.
DEMAND FOR FLUID CARE MODELS
Over the last two years, consumers have grown confident in teleconsultation and many digital and distant services sourced by data, personal devices, and wearables. In fact, a Wheel virtual care study revealed that 83% of consumers say they are likely to continue using telemedicine post-pandemic.
We heard from several physician panels at CES that consumers are wondering why healthcare delivery doesn’t work as seamlessly as other facets of their lives (Amazon Fresh delivery, for example). There is a growing expectation that healthcare must be easier and more seamless. People are now broadly questioning whether they need to come into the office now that many practices have moved away from one-and-done in-person urgent care and toward virtual primary- and longitudinal-care.
Whether it’s for pregnancy or diabetes or any number of long-term conditions, consumers are almost demanding a hybrid plan: a milestone check can be in-person, but the balance of interactions should be virtual, asynchronous, or based on a simple data upload, the delivery of which hinges on interoperability of that data.
Why it matters: Initially, virtual care and telehealth was a shiny thing to try. It became the digital front door to acquire different patient populations, but it was disconnected from the way many providers routinely delivered care. Then the pandemic hit, and virtual care became the only way to interact. Now, smart providers are sustaining learnings and memorializing workflows that worked well in the past two years.
WEARABLES FOR EVERYTHING
Smartwatches might not turn heads the way they once did, but the latest iterations on wearable technology make it clear that this area is still a priority for companies and for consumers. For marketers, the big revelation from CES is twofold:
- Ubiquity. With the behavioral pattern of tracking now a well-established norm, what we can track is becoming more expansive (everything from smart mattresses to nausea-management watches; from smart scales that also weigh heart health to smart mirrors for key vitals). Consumers can now monitor and measure just about anything in or around their bodies.
- Utility. We’re at the tipping point where tracking isn’t enough, and the focus is turning to greater utility through wearables for detection and assessment. Think: monitoring meets medical device, sold through direct-to-consumer channels. There’s a lot of traction: an AI skin evaluation, remote clinical-grade sleep studies with a patch, stress management through brain wave manipulation, concussion detection through a simple blood draw.
Many of the wearable innovations at CES operate on open platforms that empower consumers to maintain control and privacy over their data and whether and how it is shared with other devices and providers, adding another layer to the data interoperability conversation.
Why it matters: Technology has transformed the personal wellness space, bringing connectivity and community to millions worldwide. Healthcare marketers should be considering wearables as a core component of any consumer engagement strategy.
BUZZ OVER THE METAVERSE
The metaverse—a network of 3D virtual worlds—has all the building blocks to go from buzzworthy to legitimate (cloud computing, 5G wireless, virtual reality and augmented reality). But even so, it is still largely formless and has an array of issues to overcome before it can be a viable marketing platform (though individual virtual environments are still very much worth experimenting with).
Today, experimentation for healthcare looks like virtual clinics, souped-up telemedicine, virtual reality congresses and medical training, and even gamification for bringing providers and consumers together.
At some point in the future, these rather isolated features may be stitched together into a comprehensive metahealth ecosystem. CES panelists see clear opportunity: creation of avatars for more realistic consultations, personalized care, treatment and diagnosis through data interconnectivity, simplified providers and payment, and the notion of virtual twins. Virtual twins create a surrogate for a patient. These surrogate organs and internal views don’t simply look like the patient, they behave like the patient’s body, allowing providers to pre-analyze what’s wrong, scenario plan treatments, and practice pre-procedure.
Why it matters: While the metaverse still needs structure and rigor, it teaches us to remain committed to openness and experimentation.
SIGNAL FROM OUTSIDE OF HEALTHCARE
Brands of all kinds are beginning to break down category siloes to innovate in new-to-them areas. One of the most buzzworthy examples of this at CES was Sony. In pursuit of the next generation of mobility, Sony unveiled its VISION-S car, positioned as “a superior quality space in the form of a beautiful coupe.”
Why it matters: We are no longer competing for consumer attention with head-to-head competitors. Our competition can at any moment be any brand in broader culture.