Health is Wealth: Exploring the Future of Healthcare 25th May 2020
A New World Where Health is Wealth
By Jon Blakeney
Healthcare has always been crucial to our lives, however in the last few months it has taken up a central position that could remain forever. The Covid-19 pandemic has not only threatened our very existence, but it has also made us question what really matters in our lives and how we want to live when normal life returns. When health is lost all else pales into insignificance. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is never more relevant than now.
If there is one profound and long-term impact from this experience, it will be a reappraisal of how important good health is to our ultimate survival and happiness, societal as well as economical. Also, how vital it is to be able to connect with our community of friends and family. These relationships underpin our wellbeing and provide a sense of place in the world. I think this appreciation of how important both communities and good health are to our wellbeing will lead to a completely fresh attitude to life and work. People will look more closely at what defines a good life balance, maybe the never-ending pursuit of more money will finally be matched against the alternative options of relaxation, freedom and true happiness. This could lead to more home working, less commuting and more time spent looking after our most important asset – ourselves and loved ones.
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE HEALTH WAS GIVEN THE SAME ATTENTION AS MONEY.
Imagine a world where health was given the same attention as money, seems improbable, yet some signs make me believe that it will happen. We don’t think twice about checking the state of our finances on our smart phones, if not daily, probably weekly. At a glance, can check our income and expenditure and general financial health. At the touch of a finger, we get real-time, up to the minute information about our financial wellness. In a new world where health is valued more than money, surely, we should expect to be able to check our health and wellbeing, real time, any time, at the touch of a button. Our fitness levels, analysis of diet, BMI, blood pressure, stress levels, cholesterol and heart rate would all be there to see. Essentially, this would no longer be a passive exercise, goals and targets would be set just like our finances. Maybe we would even be able to compare ourselves to similar individuals around the world, a connected community with similar goals. Unfortunately, what’s missing are the brands that have yet to connect the dots, to allow for one seamless and fully integrated experience, that put human wellbeing at the very heart of its values. There is a massive opportunity for companies to target and integrate wellbeing, and whilst it’s difficult to predict from which sector they might appear, I think it will prove to be one of the fastest growing areas of our new lives. Even to the extent that industries will hybridise to capture more holistic needs.
A new breed of brands will step into the void that exists between medicine, mindfulness, sport, exercise, nutrition, beauty and diet. Brands that are leaders in wellness, harness analytics, a sense of community and combine mind, body and soul experiences. For instance, merging the best of Nike Run Club and Lululemon’s community with the offerings of Boots or Planet Organic, and backed up with likes of the NHS. The brands that could rise to this challenge are likely to come from one of four sectors. Each will have their core strength and specialism; however, most will have to extend their skills or collaborate with others to create a seamless experience. The likely winners will probably come from the fields of healthcare, fitness, technology or healthy living.
A BLEND OF THE WELLNESS ASPECTS THAT CATER TO PEOPLES’ OVERARCHING LIFESTYLE NEEDS COULD BE SO POWERFUL.
The following analysis sets out the case for change within each sector and starts to identify the brands that might lead the revolution.
From the fields of medicine to primary and secondary healthcare, this sector should be at the very heart of this new way of thinking. The global pharmaceutical industry is a $1.2 trillion business that probably understands more about the human condition than any other branch of the healthcare sector. Their investment in research alone each year exceeds $74 billion, which sector, apart from the defence industry comes close to that?
What will it take for large pharmaceutical brands like GSK, to follow a similar path taken by other manufacturers like Unilever and move off the shelf and into choreographed experiences? This approach would allow them to have a far greater influence on the wellbeing of their customers, rather than purely treating their conditions. The introduction of new players from different sectors like GSKs CEO from L’Oréal may help develop a new paradigm in healthcare provision. The primary healthcare sector also has great potential to extend its influence towards a healthier lifestyle. Particularly the private sector, where the likes of BUPA could choose to extend their roles as a health insurance provider to health facilitator. A dynamic relationship with BUPA could then include real time analysis, goal setting and solution provision at the touch of a button. A collaboration with the likes of Nike and Waitrose could then start to create an integrated wellbeing ecosystem.
The final piece of the jigsaw within this sector are the retail pharmacies, who in many respects have all the potential ingredients to expand their scope – providing secondary healthcare to local communities. As prescriptions move online, the revenue from retail products diminishes leaving a significant hole in pharmacy incomes. It takes vision to see the evolution, as in the move from car phones to mobile phones and ultimately smartphones. Companies and sectors need to adapt.
So, there is an excellent opportunity to move confidently into not only healthcare services such as check-ups and vaccinations; but also crucial advice about diet, nutrition, maternity and family planning. Collaborations with the likes of Virgin Active and Amazon / Whole Foods could create experiences currently missing from the High Street.
PHARMACIES WOULD TRANSFORM INTO VIBRANT HEALTHCARE HUBS HOSTING FITNESS SESSIONS, TALKS AND EVENTS FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.
Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Working out isn’t just about staying in shape; the lines between fitness and the self-care and self-help movement have become blurred. A cult-like phenomenon is happening in group exercise with offerings becoming more sophisticated. The likes of Soul Cycle or Barry’s Bootcamp, combine mindfulness, yoga, soundscapes and other sensory services to improve mental health alongside physical wellbeing.
The physical activity economy will grow 6.6% annually from 2018–2023, to surpass $1.1 trillion (£854bn). The reason behind this isn’t solely because consumers have integrated fitness in their daily habits, but because the sport and exercise sector has become the prominent leader in the wellness industry, by branching out to create combined and relevant experiences.
Activity brands are moving into the hospitality industry by partnering with hotels to offer guests modern and high-end fitness classes, such as Chaise on-demand Fitness has done with The James New York Hotel. Even bolder examples can be seen from the likes of Equinox Hotels, in Hudson yards’ New York, evolving Equinox from simply a fitness club into a true lifestyle brand.
Sports brands like Nike, Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and Rapha have great power in this industry as they have managed to create strong communities – people don’t just shop these brands, they relate to their values.
THE SUCCESS OF THESE SPORT RETAILERS RELIES STRONGLY ON THEIR INTERACTIVE INITIATIVES, EVENTS AND CONTENT.
The success of these sports retailers relies strongly on their interactive initiatives, events and content – such as Nike’s Run Clubs, Reebok’s FitHubs, and Rapha Cycling Club. They have created experiences where consumers don’t only buy into the products but experience the brand values, subsequently becoming a part of consumers’ overall lifestyles. These types of ‘athleisure’ brands already know how to engage with their audiences and have a great opportunity to expand their offering as the movement from healthcare to wellcare grows. With people taking a more active role in their health, athleisure brands with loyal communities have the opportunity to invest and further develop their partnerships in the healthcare sector. The blending of both products and services is the sweet spot for brands engaging in this space. From clothes, watches, to phone apps, and more, these products will see further innovation for consumers to purchase and create personalised wellness ecosystems.
The role of technology in healthcare is potentially game-changing. It can redefine our ability to self-analyse, treat and monitor our health and wellness, 24 hours a day. Technology is having an impact right across the spectrum, from primary and secondary healthcare through to fitness and nutrition.
Technology is allowing consumers to connect immediately with medical experts in a way that only private healthcare previously offered. Starting with the increasing use of telehealth, which has the power to solve global healthcare challenges.
HEALTH IS MORE THAN JUST WHAT YOU EAT OR HOW OFTEN YOU HIT THE GYM, RELAXATION AND SLEEP QUALITY EQUALLY PLAY A ROLE AND ARE TRACKED AND IMPROVED THROUGH TECHNOLOGY.
There are various aspects that impact healthcare costs, from an ageing population to the rise in chronic diseases amongst others; this is creating immense pressure on hospitals and other healthcare services. Telehealth and other technologies can play central role in solving these challenges, with the potential to re-form the healthcare system. Consumers are increasingly expecting a digital experience across all facets of their lives and healthcare systems have the opportunity to empower people to manage and control their own health through technology.
One of the best examples of this trend is the app Healthtap that enables you to take action quickly, by connecting you with a doctor to answer any health-related query. The doctors give actionable advice to help you feel better as soon as possible without the need for a visit. Both meditation and sleep quality can have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. The Headspace app offers a variety of mini guided meditation sessions, including those aimed to help you sleep, relieve anxiety, and manage stress. Sleep Cycle tracks your quality of sleep, as well as your sleeping heart rate. But its most unique feature is that it wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase in the morning.
Sleep plays a crucial role in good health throughout life. Responding to consumers interest in optimising their health, Sleep Cycle acts as an intelligent alarm clock, analysing your sleep quality and waking you up during your lightest sleep state, so you feel refreshed. Along with digital apps is wearable technology, which is having a major impact on people’s attitude to fitness and physical activity. Brands such as Fitbit have led the way in providing smart sensors that monitor fitness levels, cardio performance and sleep patterns. In many ways, the increase of the 24-hour personal digital support system is similar to what mobile banking has provided for years, we’re now seeing it permeate across all lifestyle needs.
Tremendous advances have also been made in primary healthcare. Smart dressings linked to apps are allowing medical staff to monitor wounds and injuries remotely. Feedback is immediately given, updating nurses about risks of infection and progress of healing.
However, head and shoulders above the rest in the field of healthcare technology sits Apple. Their investment and commitment are unmatched by other technology brands.
The Apple Health app is a one-stop health hub to view all your medical records, and it collates all the data from any wearables, smart phone, sleep trackers and fitness apps. It’s the start of what’s needed; everything in one place: health data, calorie intake, steps taken, blood pressure, electrocardiogram monitoring, body weight, sleep levels, glucose levels, etc, all visible at a glance. Through Apple’s Medical ID it is also possible to show a complete profile of your basic medical records; particularly useful to first responders or paramedics in an emergency. Also, Apple’s Healthkit API allows other brands and devices such as Nike Run Club and MyfitnessPal to share data, all presented in one place through Apple Health. Apple’s plans don’t stop there; they are planning to allow medical experts to monitor and connect with patients through their app and also to connect with health insurers (who are footing the bill) allowing for a potentially cheaper, the proactive relationship between consumers and insurers.
The healthy food movement has become an unstoppable trend and the link between diet, nutrition and holistic wellbeing continues apace. In 2020, the global market for healthy foods is expected to reach $1 trillion, and its swift growth shows no signs of slowing down. Those in the food industry are trying to stay ahead of the curve, with 30% of all food companies now invested in healthy foods.
The rapid growth of the recipe boxes and the meal kit market has allowed consumers to align their eating habits to their lifestyle goals. Brands like Prep Kitchen and Gymology have pioneered an approach to matching meals to fitness and lifestyle goals. These brands have successfully bridged the gap between diet and performance; the next step is to merge this approach with biohacking and DNA analysis. This science-led approach is being pioneered by brands like DNAfit who are providing consumers with genetic analysis of their health risks, nutrition levels and levels of wellbeing.
We’ve all been told that our DNA is what makes us what we are, however DNA does not come exclusively from our own human cells. It also comes from the millions of microbes that live on our skin, inside our gut, and pretty much everywhere in the human body. Scientists are uncovering many ways that the microorganisms that share our body can influence our wellbeing and it appears as though the human microbiome could be the key to treating all sorts of conditions including cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. This understanding could have a major impact on dietary trends and healthy lifestyle recommendations.
It’s been said that social media has changed the way we eat. Not only does it allow chefs, health experts and nutritionists to post photos and recipes to a wide audience; it’s connecting people across the world, creating support and advice networks around eating well – making it easier for people to follow a healthier or more organic diet. More than 50% of UK adults are intending to eat more vegetables, with 10% looking to switch to a vegetarian diet and 6% a vegan diet in the next 12 months. This is combined with an increased focus on many and varied dieting types including paleo, low carb, flexitarian, Dukan and ketogenetic. The desire for nutrition also continues to grow, as illustrated by brands like NutriBullet who have kick- started a health revolution in super food nutrition extraction.
More than 50% of UK adults intending to eat more vegetables, with 10% looking to switch to a vegetarian diet and 6% a vegan diet in the next 12 months. This is combined with an increased focus on many and varied dieting types including paleo, low carb, flexitarian, Dukan and ketogenetic. The desire for nutrition also continues to grow, as illustrated by brands like NutriBullet who have kick- started a health revolution in super food nutrition extraction.
The Likes of Whole Foods and Planet Organic are two of the best examples of retailers that have pioneered a new attitude to healthy eating. In many ways the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon in 2017 is one of the most significant developments in the healthy eating sector. The demand for nutritional supplements also continues to increase with brands like Holland and Barrett now trading in over 16 countries.
The healthy living sector is still dominated by niche operators who lack the scale to provide an international solution, however when you combine the strengths of Whole Foods and Amazon, the result could be significant. If one brand was to lead the revolution in health from this category it would be Amazon, as they have the scale, customer data and capital to dominate the market. What’s missing at the moment is a proven desire from Amazon to become an authority in any one category, should this position change then the sky is the limit.
Tim Cook, CEO Apple
So, who will lead this move, that puts health at the front of our minds and at the heart of our lives? Who will be the brand that will step into the void between medicine, mindfulness, fitness and diet?
WHAT BRAND WILL BE THERE FOR US 24 HOURSA DAY, BE OUR DIGITAL DOCTOR, COACH AND CHEF WRAPPED INTO ONE?
In summary there are two main contenders. Firstly, Amazon who have the customer data, the distribution and the ability to supply almost everything that a healthy life would require. Whether its meal kits, fresh produce, supplements, prescriptions, medication, or fitness equipment – the list is endless. Amazon is in a fantastic position to use their unmatched infrastructure for the benefit of human wellness. Their ambition, however, seems to lie more in supplying the ingredients required for a healthy life rather than to choregraph the lifestyle.
The next contender is Apple, who have made a long-term commitment to healthcare; such as recruiting dozens of doctors and forming its own healthcare group serving its employees. In a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook posed a rhetorical question about the future of his company: “If you zoomed out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?” After a moment, Cook answered his own question: “It will be about health.”
It’s that vision that will result in Apple leading the way in personal healthcare. Unfortunately, what they are missing is the logistical and delivery capabilities that Amazon have to offer. The future health dream team would see these two giants of our time collaborate, however even when you combine their skills something is still missing. The likes of Nike Run Club and Lulu Lemon have proved in an amazing way that it’s possible to mobilise a whole generation if you have an inspiring vision. It is this last missing ingredient that will prove essential if we are to move health to the top of our agenda throughout the world.
THE FUTURE OF OUR HEALTHCARE IS IN YOUR HANDS AND IT WILL BE TECHNOLOGY LED. IT WILL BE THERE 24 HOURS A DAY. OUR DIGITAL DOCTOR, FITNESS COACH AND NUTRITIONIST CONVENIENTLY WRAPPED INTO ONE – A COMFORTING THOUGHT.
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