New York, NY—For those of us squarely in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, fall is upon us, and that means more than PSLs to our Innovation team—trendspotting season is well underway. To me that’s the perfect time to pause and reflect on some of our trend highlights from 2018 before they’re gone for good. 

A perfect pair for patient insights stands out, and health and fitness startup Lumen seems perfectly situated at the intersection of The Health Elites and Rise of the Illiterati. Before we dive into Lumen’s tech, here’s a crash course on these two trends—think of them as bookends of the health literacy and engagement spectrum. On one end you have the Illiterati, who likely represent around half of all patients in the western world. They struggle with core principles of health from how everyday actions impact their disease to how multiple chronic conditions interact in their bodies. And once numbers like O2 sats and A1Cs enter the equation, their health literacy plummets even further. Health Elites stand as the yang to their yin—this empowered class is tracking everything from diet to DNA, all the while setting a new standard for what our health future may be. 

And Lumen is poised to bowl over this 7-10 split. In a nutshell, it's a device (and accompanying app) that analyzes the gasses in a user’s breath to determine real-time aspects of her metabolism. According to the product page, here’s how it works: 

The concentration of the various gasses in your breath tells Lumen what your cells are burning for fuel. Like CO2—burning fuel from carbs releases more CO2 than burning body fat.

While putting this power in the palm of your hand is cutting-edge, its underlying principle and approach to exercise and diet planning is well established. 

This science isn’t new, it’s been helping world-class athletes reach peak levels of fitness for years… Lumen measures your breath, does the math, and then sends expert advice straight to your smartphone.

And the beauty of this “expert advice” lies in that it is both simple and robust. An AI engine churns the raw data into actionable advice, from suggested meal plans for the day to recommended exercises and fuel for pending workouts. Thus Lumen is designed with both the Health Elites and Illiterati in mind. The former get a more holistic picture of their real-time metabolism, and the latter get advice that forgoes medical jargon for actionable insight.

Why This Matters

As AI and other technologies allow more and more products to adapt to become solutions for a wide array of consumers, a new paradox is emerging. Famed software engineer and author Alan Cooper once claimed that “If you design for everyone, you delight no one. That is the recipe for a mediocre product,” but these technologies are enabling tools like Lumen to adapt in real time to a broad array of different personas from our Illiterati to the Health Elites. Today’s marketers must be mindful of how to create and employ tailored messaging and tactics across personas that feel both uniquely personal but still prove useful to multiple segments in the right moment. That’s how Lumen can deliver on its promise to be a: 

  • Lifestyle Life Coach
  • Metabolic Meal Planner
  • Nightstand Nutritionist
  • Daily Dietician
  • Sleep Scientist
  • Workout Whisperer
  • Holistic Health Handheld…

to each and every one of their customers. 

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.