One of the most radical economic disruptions in the modern era is coming. Is your company forging the way?
Zeus Jones was built on a fundamental belief that there’s innate potential and good within everyone. From the desire to always find ways of saying “yes” in the face of an easy “no,” to the assumption that personal responsibility will win out over short-sighted gain. This belief in individual potential and ambition has also been at the heart of our approach to health—health is not just something we care about and foster internally through offerings like staff-run yoga and fitness classes, but it's a business imperative as well: we've made it our mission to positively impact the rapidly changing world of health care.
What started as isolated project research quickly turned into a torrent of health-related news, articles and forecasts. It quickly became clear that health sits in the middle of divergent cultural cross-currents.
On the one hand, consumers continue to spend ever-growing amounts on their wellness, from fitness to food to technology. These products, services and tools promise the benefits of a healthier version of ourselves. They’re inspiring, fun and easy to use.
On the other hand, the health care system continues to struggle to innovate at a pace consumers expect and technology allows. The health care system promises—and delivers—amazing results when it comes to acute care, but the other 80% of our health that’s impacted by diet, exercise, relationships and a host of other more nuanced factors are left on the table; they’ve traditionally been too hard to measure and in turn, too hard to reliably impact for the better.
The future of health we thought was a decade away is being built as you read this.
As we looked at these opposing trends, we began to wonder if something bigger was underway.
Are conversations about improving the patient experience and minimizing "friction" too limited? Are the mergers and acquisitions within the health care system pointing to something more than simply integrating health care's traditional players? Is something more profound happening to our understanding of what it means to be healthy?
To play out these questions, we decided to focus our energy on envisioning what the future of health care might look like in 5-10 years. We started with a piece of speculative fiction that focuses on the end of diabetes, and how a new health ecosystem could impact chronic disease.
We’ve imagined a future with platforms like Vida, which connects all the disparate and scattered aspects of our health data by using smart analytics to predict health trends, and proactively connect you to solutions in all aspects of your life.
We’ve also thought about products like Liora, which offer personal care anywhere, in a way that meets the demands and quirks of modern life.
Those quirks set the stage for a growing diversity of ways to receive care—food not least withstanding. That’s why we created Ono, a service that not only delivers meals catered to your gut biome, but serves them up with side of locavorism.
As we worked through scenarios and discussed how health care might take shape, we witnessed a surprising number of these ideas begin to take hold in the market. From Amazon’s partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, to the huge increases in funding for digital health startups (up 43% in 2017 to a total of $11.5 billion), to the breadth of health-focused food and service companies, the future of health we thought was a decade away is being built as you read this.
3 Trends Driving the New Approach to Health:
1. Health is ever-present.
This is so obvious we initially weren’t sure it warranted mentioning. However, it's core to a new approach to health and it gets lost in the way we think about “health care.” We all know that health is ever-present, because when someone asks you how you’re doing, you don’t answer “yes” or “no,” you give shades of your experience. “I'm doing great” to “I feel like death” is a broad continuum, and as a culture we’re putting our time, money and energy into getting ourselves as close to “great” as possible, one hot yoga class at a time.
2. Health will be everywhere.
From your thermostat, to your grocery store, to your car, there won’t be a place that health-first interactions won’t be embedded. Look down the aisles of your local Target and already you can find light bulbs that are designed to adjust the white-balance of their light throughout the day in order to promote better sleep, food that helps balance your microbiome, and off-the-shelf DNA tests to understand the underlying mysteries of who we are, where we came from, and why. While today these products are relatively isolated experiences that users coordinate through their own research, we see a future where the research, care coordination and intellectual heft of today’s most progressive health systems are packaged into simple “health products.” Delivered through digital tools, physical products and real-life experiences, we’re witnessing an approach to care developing that breaks down the barriers of geography, and opens access to the best the health care system has to offer regardless of who you are, or where you live.
3. Health is fostered, not fixed.
Today’s system focuses on outcomes that are predictable, safe and routine. In turn, we’ve prioritized “health” as something you either have or don’t – and if you have it, health care is of little use to you. But what we know about health—both academically, and intuitively—is that it requires relationships to flourish. From our first contact with our mothers, to the report we share with our caregivers, the value of a strong relationship to health isn’t just a “nice to have,” it’s paramount. And these relationships extend beyond the people in our lives, it extends into the way we engage with our health. From relationships with specific providers, to relationships with the brands, people and services that bring health to the fore in our lives, these interactions carry huge potential to impact health for the better.
Our work with Ono, Liora, and Vida is really just the beginning of exploring these principles. We know that the health care industry is primed for massive disruption—especially as game-changers like Amazon and Apple edge into the space—which means that the solutions to the kinks and pitfalls of our current system will likely be delivered in surprising forms and come from unexpected places. The number of companies participating in the health space is only going to increase as businesses catch up with the new reality of health that we see forming daily. It’s only a matter of time before the entire industry takes on dramatic new form—and it’s the companies investing today in a future that revolves around health who are going to lead the way.