Now that I am back in London and reflecting on the 13 panels, 25 PN Perspective booth interviews and general buzz of SXSW, it’s hard to pin-point the key highlights. Healthcare is a booming industry, with clients in pharma and consumer health continuously asking us to be creative and provide that cutting edge story for their company. Whilst battling through the politics and avoiding the conversations around Trump and Brexit, key trends still shine through, and I am keen to share a few insights with you.

Patient Centricity – A phrase we hear a lot of within the healthcare space…but what does it really mean and how can we utilise technology to put the patient first?

  • There are many sources of information for patients, but none of these are personalised to the patients specific needs. We need to provide patient solutions that can automatically adapt to be personalised for an individual’s needs.
  • Implementing personalised technology such as chat bots allows science and technology to harmonise in a simple way and be on hand for patients as they require assistance.
  • Patients are looking for the ‘latest and greatest information’ – at the moment there is a lot of static content that quickly becomes outdated.
  • We need to coach and mentor physicians on empathy.

(Check out an insightful video I took during a panel discussion with Tatyana Kanzaveli, during which she discussed her persona patient journey.)

Research and clinical trials – With the ever increasing cost of technology, how can we continue to utilize it within research to benefit patients?

  • Virtual labs can ensure that patients are enrolled in relevant trials that can minimally impact their quality of life (QoL).
  • Technology can allow for better monitoring between clinic visits, therefore making trials more accurate. Provide the patients with quick, short questions between treatments to provide us with real world insight and increased patient engagement.
  • Ethics committees and regulators believe that virtual labs should be utilised when they receive patient support – a key issue is that people don’t like to deviate from what they know, although we can see this shift slowly occurring.
  • Guidelines should be developed for research projects to ensure that security, data delivery and patient experience are completed with high calibre.
  • But, with all this in mind, will we see a decrease in patient drop–out rates? A panel that I attended which included the likes of GSK, Mobile Health, Validic and THREAD believed that even though technology will increase the accuracy of research and aid patients’ QoL, the drop-out rate will still persist. The only way to minimise this (as much as possible) is to ensure that we are always allowing patients to provide their feedback and rewarding them with insights into their clinical data outputs.

Consumer wearables – From the accelerator awards, to the Interactive Innovation Awards, there were a lot of new technology wearables at SXSW 2017, but what do we need to know about them?

  • Accuracy – this is a word I heard a lot both in panels and awards. Two stats from Julianna Scruggs of Under Armour resonate with me:
    • 58% of non-tech wearable owners would consider using a wearable if they trusted the accuracy of the data.
    • Nearly a third of wearable owners stopped using their wearable because they didn’t trust the accuracy of the data.
  • Consumers want more than just tracking – they want to know from the information collected, how can I utilise this data to gain insight into other aspects of my daily life?
  • So how can we ensure we have accuracy? Utilise the industry vs research relationship! Research teams should identify the consumer tests and deliver protocol and guidelines to industry – although industry moves quicker than research so a question I still have unanswered is how can this relationship really work?

Even though all of the above came from healthcare specific sessions and connections, one of my key takeaways from SXSW 2017 is that all industries, especially healthcare, need to keep an eye on the technologies, projects and learnings from industry leaders such as Google and Amazon. These innovations can be well adapted to consumer health and pharmaceutical needs.