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Five trends driving the emergence of the personalized health ecosystem

As health care becomes more data-driven, we explore how organizations can contribute to a personalized health ecosystem.

New data-based tools and technologies make a more personalized approach to health and wellness possible. As we explore in the new Five trends driving the emergence of the personalized health ecosystem report, the world has never needed this more than now.

While companies and organizations long recognized the potential of new tools to capture and use data to transform health, they lacked the “burning platform” to fuel this change. The COVID-19 pandemic – and the global disruption it has caused – has demonstrated that organizations have the opportunity to become more resilient, agile and innovative if they shift to digitally-enabled business models with data at the core.

The pandemic is changing the world in permanent ways. “The emergence from crisis shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘great restart,’ but rather a ‘great reset,’” as one CEO told Fortune.

For global health organizations, the crisis highlights systemic challenges related to care, including spiraling costs, inadequate infrastructure and older, sicker citizenries. Tackling these challenges – like tackling the pandemic – requires close stakeholder collaboration, identification of shared goals and a commitment to create interoperable systems for data sharing and usage.

In particular, there are five areas where organizations must focus their efforts to build this potential data-driven future.

Trend 1: The explosion of health care data requires a new ecosystem, built around the individual, that will accelerate affordable, accessible care

We are witnessing an unprecedented explosion of health data: in 2018, the sector generated an estimated 1,218 exabytes of data. Throughout their lifetime, a single individual generates huge quantities of data. Yet, with these data scattered across multiple siloes, all they show is a series of isolated “snapshots” of a person’s health.

Integrating these data can turn the fragmented snapshots into a continuous movie, giving us a richer, fuller understanding of the patient’s health outlook, challenges and needs. It is possible to envisage a future system built around using that richer data to deliver better outcomes.

Currently, however, this information is trapped in siloes. Organizations must focus less on owning and monetizing data and more on connecting and combining it to drive valuable insights that can transform health care.

The best way to accelerate innovation that can improve patients’ lives and health is not to take a protectionist attitude to data. Instead, we need to think in terms of an entirely new ecosystem for health care, which could allow us to integrate all personal health data around the individual patient. Standing at the center of the future ecosystem, the individual will become the focus for a hyper-personalized approach to health and wellness.

To build this new ecosystem, organizations must:

  • Give individuals ownership and control over their data so that they will have more power over their own care.
  • Understand that data is no longer an asset to be owned, monetized and siloed, but rather, curated and shared to drive better outcomes
  • Recognize that personalizing health also has the potential to make it more affordable and accessible by reducing inappropriate care

Trend 2: With sensors in, on and around us, 5G and artificial intelligence will create a new network transforming health care

At the heart of the coming data revolution will be complementary technologies with the potential to transform health care. These technologies played a crucial role as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated: sensors tracked people’s movements in order to monitor social distancing; 5G powered telehealth and virtual triage; and AI assisted drug-discovery efforts.

These recent applications are only a preview of the radical potential the technologies hold for health care. Sensors are already becoming embedded throughout the environment and capturing real-time data streams that offer a much more holistic picture of health.

The emergence of 5G is accelerating the transport of these data, while AI algorithms are increasingly offering the analytical power needed to convert data into insights at high speed and scale. The rapid progress of AI is immediately visible if we consider the 2018-19 dramatic uptick in FDA-approved algorithms.

Together, these technologies offer a powerful emerging new network that will form a key part of the future ecosystem for health care.

To realize the full potential of sensors, 5G and AI organizations must:

  • Collaborate outside the traditional health sector to extract and combine data from medical and non-medical sensors
  • Work alongside other stakeholders to help develop the AI-based solutions that can deliver hyper-personalization
  • Recognize and exploit the potential for anytime, anywhere care delivery enabled by the combination of these technologies

Trend 3: To personalize health, organizations must use data to understand and influence behavior

There’s universal consensus that behavior is a critical factor in health outcomes. Recognition of the vital role of behavior has drawn many digital startups to attempt to analyze and influence behavior patterns. These efforts have yielded some success over the past year: Virta Health, for example, recently reported that its remote coaching program was effective at reversing type 2 diabetes.

To realize its potential, however, behavior change needs to be treated not as a separate field within health sciences, but as an integral aspect of the way health care is personalized and managed. Future products and services need to be delivered within an influencing environment where AI and sensors can enable a continuous “judge and nudge” assessment of patient behavior and steer them toward better health.

To use data to enable behavior change, organizations must:

  • Collaborate to design new payment models that reward for better management of health and wellness
  • Incorporate behavioral science into the design of products and services
  • Work to build patient engagement with behavior change solutions

Trend 4: A trusted intelligence system is needed to secure the participation of the patient-consumer and other stakeholders

Building trust will be vital in the future for organizations hoping to gain both regulatory approval and patient-consumer buy-in. For example, cyber protection is currently a serious unmet need across the sector. Organizations that want to win trust should move now to show they’re taking steps to secure their products and the data they generate, hold and share.

In 2019, the FDA issued guidance proposing a new approach to regulating AI: trusted companies will be permitted to launch unlocked algorithms and collaborate with the FDA on monitoring these products’ performance. The companies that can thrive in this kind of collaborative, trust-based environment will be best placed to create the future “trusted intelligence” systems that will give the individual the secure, convenient tools to engage confidently with the broader ecosystem.

To build a trusted intelligence system, organizations must:

  • Design products and solutions with a focus on generating data and securing it
  • Work proactively with regulators to create more robust and trustworthy framework for data exchange
  • Work with regulators to enable fully powered algorithms to reach the market
Trend 5. Organizations must be decisive in the business model they choose to pursue in the future.

With the global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are facing ever-tighter capital constraints. These constraints make it imperative that companies move toward more focused business models rather than spreading their efforts across a range of different approaches.

Breakthrough innovators will develop new approaches to unmet medical needs, from cancer to dementia. Efficient producers will deliver the affordable but effective care needed worldwide. With physicians and health systems capacity-constrained, disease managers and lifestyle managers will play fundamental roles in the ecosystem, especially by delivering care to individuals with chronic diseases.

For all companies, the challenge post-COVID-19 will remain: to identify what business model they can best employ, and to acquire the data that will make them most effective in this area.

To make the future business model work, organizations must:

  • Identify and focus on their own core value to the broader ecosystem
  • Secure access to the right data, and in the right way, to optimize and validate their own business model
  • Work to build the services and customer engagement expertise to deliver value more effectively


While health systems and business models globally are struggling to cope with spiraling costs and aging populations, empowered individuals are already demanding a shift toward personalized care that can enable them to live longer and healthier lives. By focusing on these five important trends, organizations can better position themselves to succeed and thrive in a data-driven future.

This is particularly relevant for industry today, as it navigates a volatile environment and struggles to deal with COVID-19 and its disruptive impact on business, accelerating the data revolution in health care.

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