From the power of cannabinoids to kimchi, voice tech and patient communities, health experts share their tips for the year ahead
We booked a quick check-up with some of the most switched on figures from the world’s health and wellness agencies to find out what trends we should be watching out for if we want 2019 to be our healthiest and happiest yet.
1. Jesse Kates, group creative director, Neon, an FCB Health Network company
As I lay half naked on an exam table during a yearly physical while a physician’s assistant applied eight electrodes to various points on my body, I wondered when I would simply be able to show my doctor the ECG I took with my latest gen Apple watch and call it a day. Then I got to thinking about CBD oil and the incredible surge in popularity that the non-psychoactive and readily available cannabinoid has had on the market – increasingly supported by data showing it can do everything from easing anxiety to reducing the risk of developing diabetes – no doctor required. But where things really get interesting is how new innovations and data are bringing us closer. For the first time in history, a healthcare ‘app’ has generated the data to pass rigorous regulatory scrutiny in the US – garnering FDA approval and enabling physicians to prescribe it. The Prescription Digital Therapeutic (PDT) called reSET can help treat patients struggling with addiction to marijuana (the psychoactive variety) and other frequently abused substances. This is all part of a tremendously exciting trend that proves the power of data in health and wellness provides a hell of a lot more than just proof.
2. Simon Stebbing, international head of digital, WPP Health Practice
The growth of wearable technology was the least surprising trend of 2018. As consumers go mobile-first in their pursuit of wellness, downloads of health-related applications are booming. App stores now host over 300,000 health apps, with 200 added every day. CES 2019
underlines the creative evolution; myriad fitness trackers, calorie counters and medication reminders seem mundane next to the vest that can predict heart attacks
. There’s even a smart belt
that warns us when we’ve over-indulged.
But the proliferation of health apps is secondary; it’s the trends beneath that count. Half of all deaths are caused by four preventable lifestyle factors
. And 50% of medicines
aren’t taken as prescribed. Evidently, the apps designed to help us aren’t yet moving the needle. Perhaps we’ve all become app greedy; downloading too many but using too few. A scary number of downloaded apps are used just once. If you want to get healthy, be selective. Define your personal goals and only choose apps that can help you meet them. Quality always trumps quantity.
Downloads will soar as wearables become increasingly creative. But in the world of wellness, true creative transformation won’t be measured in the App Store – it will be measured in outcomes.
3. Liz Clark Martinez, head of strategic planning, McCann Health Singapore
2018 had its fair share of eyebrow-raising health and wellness trends (appetite-suppressing lollipops
. Yes, really). As the global wellness industry is set to continue growing twice as fast as global economic growth, we can all look forward to hearing plenty more trends we should be adopting to keep ourselves healthy and well. Here are my top three tips that are time and finance sympathetic and focused on more long-term health and wellness lifestyle adoption rather than short-term fads.
In our busy and pressured modern lifestyles, we all struggle to find the time required to maintain a fitness regime and data shows that subscriptions for virtual workouts and classes and workouts for use in-home are increasing. Alternatively, for a little more cash you could even install a ‘Mirror’ that doubles up as a virtual fitness instructor
No more excuses for that New Year’s resolution to get fit!
The importance of gut-health
Gut microbes are key to many aspects of human health including immune, metabolic and neurobehavioural traits. It is an incredibly complex organ system but adding foods that contain pre-and pro-biotics like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi can help. Further reading: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Guilia Enders.
Mental health – mindfulness
It turns out that we need to take specific time out or need guidance on how to stay or return to the present moment rather than relaying events of the past or projecting worries and fears into the future. The good news is that you can start simply: paying attention to your senses as you enjoy your breakfast, having a meal and being present without looking at your phone, or making your coffee break an actual break. If you can find 10 to 15 minutes to meditate there are plenty of apps to help. Check out Headspace and InsightTimer.
4. Chris Seda, product design director, FCB Health New York
“Alexa, should my brand have a voice in Conversational UI?”
If you or your brand managers are still unsure, think of the current reach of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa — not only in their smart speakers, but also with appliances, consumer electronics and even automobiles.
Having the ability to ask out-loud for assistance with a question, to purchase a product, or play your favourite songs is just the beginning. We are now seeing other possibilities with ‘ambient computing’, with regards to keeping track of your health stats, logging other health-related data, and essentially just trying to be a healthier and happier individual in 2019. You can do so using just your voice, sans computer.
Last year, it seemed that most of the health and wellness voice apps were for meditation and fitness tracking, with only a handful of pharmaceutical-related skills or actions, and with very limited functionality due to medical and legal implications.
The trend being observed was that more tech-savvy users are doing things like tracking their medications utilising skills or actions that were not necessarily designed to do what they’ve rigged them to do. Using to-do-list skills to log their meds, and reminder skills to help them with adherence. This should be a loud alarm for pharma brands and healthcare providers. It should help them realise there is an unmet need and tremendous opportunity for them to improve the lives of their patients.
Of course, it’s necessary to be cautious with healthcare applications - but, it’s as important to make sure that patients aren’t doing more harm than good by trying to finagle their own solutions.
5. Brian Lefkowitz, chief creative officer, Digitas Health
In today’s health and wellness landscape, people are becoming increasingly engaged in their personal health outcomes. Whether they’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle or facing a life-threatening illness, studies show that people who are more involved in their own care see improved outcomes. And it goes without saying that every person’s health and wellness journey is unique and has a distinct culture surrounding it.
Brands will be ignored if they can’t find a way to seamlessly integrate into the cultures of these conditions. We are using data to learn more about these distinct cohorts and how and when we can reach patients in relevant ways, designing creative solutions that can further shape individualised patient experiences. Self-management and community-based engagements will be more prevalent in the brand’s role in creating personalised health and wellness experiences enabled by technology.
6. David Hunt, chief executive officer, Havas Lynx Group
2018 was a ground-breaking year for healthcare communications with a number of key trends
shaping our approach as a creative agency. However, the biggest trend from 2018 that has provided us with real, tangible insight, is a greater degree of confidence in patients.
Patients are more informed and involved in their own health and wellbeing, they are actively
searching for information to help shape their approach to their condition, to ultimately live happier and healthier lifestyles. By listening to and working with patients, we can harness a much better understanding of patient needs.
Patients are actively engaging with their peers through patient communities. They are taking
ownership of their condition, and are keen to support one another by sharing their experiences to drive better outcomes.
In healthcare communications, we have long defined patients by their condition, but in this new and evolved world, we must consider the bigger picture. We must look beyond their condition to consider their whole lifestyle, their habits, their communities and their needs. By considering the subjective wellbeing of a patient, we will create more effective and meaningful communications.
These trends are allowing us to develop bold, innovative and creative solutions that integrate into the patient’s life, and allow us to collaboratively work together to truly improve outcomes for patients.