3 minute read 18 Jun 2018
man having physical therapy using technological equipment

How consumers are shaking up healthcare

By

Alison Kay

EY Global Accounts Committee Chair

Working across EY's largest accounts. Advocate for a diverse workforce. Accomplished pianist. Loves to sail.

3 minute read 18 Jun 2018

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Advances in technology and biology are revolutionizing how we live, consume and stay healthy.

Disruptive technology is empowering consumers and blurring the lines between industries. Consumer-facing and health industries are converging and reaching a turning point. And it's going to change all our lives.

Imagine being able to hand over to bots all the boring purchases you make – from toothpaste to light bulbs – and saving time for the brands you really love, from cars to technology to entertainment to fashion.

Imagine your body as a huge data platform, enabling you to remain healthy for longer and to receive tailored treatment for any disease that arises, based on your unique genome and biomarkers.

While no one wants choice taken away, imagine a future where living, shopping and staying healthy is much easier, faster and more personalized. Who doesn't want that?

Struggling to stay relevant

Let's flip this and look at the business of consumer products and retail. Leaders tell us they are struggling to keep their organizations relevant: 75% of executives from consumer products and 66% from retail say their traditional value-creation tactics are increasingly disrupted.

Leaders are struggling to keep their organizations relevant: 75% of executives from consumer products and 66% from retail said their traditional value-creation tactics are increasingly disrupted.

Retail in the twentieth century was built around the car, high-traffic real estate locations and mass media advertising. But retail in the twenty-first century will revolve around AI, voice, mobile and automated fulfillment technologies (such as drones and self-driving delivery vehicles).

In healthcare, it's been fifteen years since the world's largest collaborative biological project, the Human Genome Project, was completed. Thanks to this landmark endeavor to sequence, identify and map human DNA, we are seeing the possibilities for precision medicine and aggregating data to manage public health.

Personally, I'm excited about precision medicine. Being able to diagnose and treat disease based on people's genetic and molecular profiles is the equivalent of moving cancer treatment from a sledgehammer to a needle – from an undifferentiated approach based on eliminating the fastest-growing cancer cells, to a specific one that targets particular cell mutations. 

The ability to diagnose and target treatment based on people's genetic and molecular profiles will revolutionize the treatment of many diseases.

But there's no denying the business of health care is in flux. Changing technology and the entry of non-health care companies into the industry have made headlines and rattled stock markets. Recently announced acquisitions and other ventures also continue to blur the lines between suppliers, care delivery and payers, including employers and individuals.

We know where we want to get to: a future where health systems are participatory, predictive and proactive. Where secure platforms enable the sharing of a wide variety of genetic, clinical, behavioral and environmental data. But getting there will not be easy. And as convergence takes hold, those who remember to put people at the center of decision making will thrive.

Putting people at the heart of decision making

Ultimately, technology will only take consumer-facing companies so far. CPR and health businesses need to understand what people want, and how people are likely to behave. Those are core skills that must be at the heart of an organization's purpose.

Ultimately, technology will only take consumer-facing companies so far. CPR and health businesses need to understand what people want, and how people are likely to behave.

Yet trends have a way of exploding onto the market and being adopted with bewildering speed. How can CPR and health businesses understand consumers when they keep reinventing themselves?

At World Entrepreneur Of The Year in June, I'll be leading a spotlight panel on the empowered consumer, where we examine how new products, services and platforms are revolutionizing the way we shop, live and stay healthy. Some of the questions we'll cover include:

  • What should governments and companies across the life sciences, technology and consumer sectors be doing to embrace and accelerate change?
  • With 10% of the world’s population still living in extreme poverty, what should businesses invest in to create sustainable growth?
  • There's a clear need to protect personal data, but can value be created from available information that doesn't compromise individual privacy?
  • When algorithms influence consumer behavior, who programs the algorithm and how should their power be regulated?

Between 13-17 June, the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018™ Forum will convene the world's leading entrepreneurs and businesses under the theme of "Does industry collision shatter or shape our future thinking?" Join the conversation by following #WEOY, #BetterQuestions, #GrowthBarometer

Summary

CPR and health businesses need to understand what people want, and how people are likely to behave, to shape the future of their organizations.

About this article

By

Alison Kay

EY Global Accounts Committee Chair

Working across EY's largest accounts. Advocate for a diverse workforce. Accomplished pianist. Loves to sail.