19 November 2015
Brigid and Martyn went along to this jam-packed day that covered many aspects of healthcare: what’s happening to the consumer, its provision, prevention innovations, use of research/data, connected health and systems, future innovations, plus various five-minute ‘pitches’ from entrepreneurial medical and tech start-ups looking for funding and/or partners.
Not only this, but Opinium and Lansons, who partner us in research and strategic comms/PR respectively, presented ‘People Powered Health’, the findings of a multi-phase research study on what consumers want from healthcare.
Here are some of our key take-outs.
We’re living much longer than even 30 years ago. Our expectations are very high – we want and expect a good quality of life as we get older. The trouble is, a growing proportion of the UK population makes seriously bad life choices such as smoking, diet, drugs and no exercise. Yet these people expect doctors and the NHS to pick up the pieces, give them a pill, fix them.
According to Deloitte, 10% of people use 70% of NHS resources, and the NHS funding gap is forecast to reach £30 billion by 2020–2021. The NHS, and indeed other health providers in Europe and beyond, are either bankrupt or bankrolled by governments at breaking point. The demand for services is just far too great.
This is exacerbated by our digital world, which has radically changed what we expect of any kind of service provider. People presume everything to be available, accessible, quick and on demand. In healthcare, patients have become purchasers/consumers
Clearly this can’t continue. Something has to radically change, else the system won’t be able to support our ‘living longer’ population.
A cultural shift is needed and it’s already begun. As GP waiting rooms fill to overflowing, with appointments often taking up to two weeks, people are beginning to turn to technology – using apps to maintain their health or using Google to self-diagnose. But more people must change their behaviour and take more responsibility for their own long-term health.
And in the health system itself, technological advances and service design must be deployed relevantly and quickly to help people change their behaviours and to improve efficiency in provision, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
With smartphone penetration at 70% in the UK, 52% of adults aged 60+ owning a tablet and 26% of adults currently using a health-related app, technology is a key factor in improving the health system, especially in preventative strategies.
Hundreds of med-tech businesses are developing new offers, with innovations including big data that’s used to predict chances of cancer, contact lenses that detect glucose levels for diabetics, and even a “smart pill” containing a pinhead-sized sensor – once swallowed it transmits a signal to devices such as smartphones.
Much is also being done through government and university initiatives. Innovate UK, funded by the government, provides competitions and grants for innovators in all aspects of health, including technology, service design, and health and wellbeing entrepreneurs.
As all of this becomes more integrally connected in our lives, it will be the job of creative strategists and brand designers like us to ensure that med tech companies don’t simply think of big ideas, accurately record data and make it available.
We can look through the science to get to the ideas that ensure the experience, the communications, and benefits are easy to understand, simple to use and beautiful to behold. Otherwise no one will spare them a second thought.