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Self-care redefines healthcare

Self-care is becoming increasingly prevalent. This is the most incredible opportunity and threat for healthcare.






Welcome to "It's a Healthusiasm World", a newsletter on Health, Business and Technology by Christophe Jauquet.


Every week (almost), I will amplify the positive changes that make our world a little healthier and happier.


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Hi there,


This week, the newsletter is in a different format. Well,... actually, it's back to the old format again this time. So, there are no updated thoughts on the latest news reads, but some views on impactful trends in health & self-care. I'll get back to ChatGPT-4o in one of the next updates.


Self-care is redefining healthcare


This week, I spoke at Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week about how self-care will redefine the future of healthcare. I figured it interesting enough to expand on it in this newsletter because this talk should make healthcare actors consider the impact of what we have been calling the empowered patient for 25 years. Although it is better not to mention the patient" in this context...


Self-Care is redefining healthcare





But first, of course, the accompanying soundtrack, which is 'somewhat' related to this self-care trend: Vitamin C by CAN. It's a great vibe to dig your way deeper into my thinking on how self-care will redefine health care.



Let's get into it:


We must start by outlining the concept of Self-care: the care a person undertakes to positively impact their health. I'm not saying anything new there. What's more important is why it is growing and how its omnipresence today will impact healthcare tomorrow.


1. Technological Trends


In talking about the growth of Self-care, the role of technology must be recognised in this reasoning. Technology provides a lot of concrete information and tools to help you take more control over yourself. However, even more than concrete solutions, technology has significantly impacted our habits in recent years. It has directly empowered people. Something that started in other sectors in the 1960s has made people's behaviour more proactive.


To illustrate this, let's look at how the banking sector offered the YES machine as early as 1967. This device, integrated into the wall of a bank, allowed people to withdraw money independently whenever they wanted. It was the beginning of the self-service experience. From the 1980s onwards, you could call your bank to remotely carry out certain specific transactions. The new century also heralded the beginning of online banking services, where you no longer had to call but could do it yourself. These services were expanded and made mobile in the following decades. This brought more personal, location-based and comprehensive financial services into your pocket, followed by payment options on your wrist or ring with the introduction of wearables. In recent years, financial institutions have focused heavily on a conversational experience, where generic chatbots can reply and help you in a pinch. Something that will evolve in the coming years into a personal companion who can always assist you with all your financial matters. Each of these evolutions brought a new form of empowerment and gradually changed people's behaviour and expectations.



2. Psychological Trends


Another evolution that has fueled self-care is that in our (Western) society, the basic and emotional aspects have become increasingly important. It drives people to what Maslow called in his "Hierarchy of Needs": the self-actualisation needs. People increasingly need to become the best version of themselves. This can be achieved in different ways, but being healthy and happy will always be the most important motivation. That's why more and more people are looking for ways to take care of themselves. This is the second evolution, which is a psychological evolution we've seen in recent years.


3. Economic Trends


And if more and more people look for help to take care of themselves, an entire economy will be created around that. In my new book, I call this the "Transformation Economy". More and more companies are (partly) focusing on keeping or making their customers healthy and happy. This drives a rapidly growing economy that is already four times larger than the pharmaceutical industry. This economic evolution also means that people are increasingly concerned with self-care. No matter how you look at it, 99.9% of the actions that impact our health are outside the healthcare system, according to the World Health Organization.


The self-care impact on healthcare


Health actors must realise and acknowledge how large and impactful this self-care evolution is. Health is, without a doubt, the aspect of our lives about which we most want to gain information or insights. However, until 25 years ago, health-related information was unevenly distributed. There was 'information asymmetry', as we called it. Google first changed this, although it remains - to this day - still tricky for average people to interpret this information. With Artificial Intelligence - and personal companions - this will change significantly. People will gain the understandable and actionable insights about their health that they so desperately want.


The consequence for healthcare is that there is a threat of a massive influx of patients into a system that is already understaffed and overworked. The democratisation of diagnostic tools will reinforce this. The healthcare system deliberately limits diagnostic actions because false positive results could overwhelm the system. That makes sense for the system but not for the patient because they would "rather" have a false positive diagnosis than a (too) late diagnosis, of course. (the individual consequences can be more impactful when diagnosed too late) This new empowerment allows them to change this themselves, that is, if the healthcare system can provide access when desired or considered needed.


Primary Care


It will be necessary to prepare healthcare for this potential future scenario. Primary care will likely have to experience the first and most crucial wave of disruption here. Firstly, many activities in primary care could be replaced by self-care applications because people will autodiagnose or receive automated health advice from their personal health companions. General practitioners, pharmacists and health insurance funds will play an important, possibly completely new, role in this change.  It will become a passive part of the primary care job as they will be expected to know, evaluate and refer (many of) those applications. I hope their new role will be supported by technological, perhaps automated, intelligence that can cope with this tsunami of demands. Another change in primary care is that their role will also be much more holistic than today because they will also have to be able to think outside the healthcare system. I wouldn't be surprised if this new Primary Care role would evolve into a health concierge function that we today are gradually seeing in field of functional medicine, among other things.


Speciality Care


Of course, Specialty Care will also have to deal with a huge influx of patients. However, the complexity of this branch of healthcare will argue for speciality support that automates routine tasks as much as possible. Integrating AI solutions into speciality care more quickly than self-care may determine the viability of Specialty Care in the future.


Opportunity


With this growth in self-care, we can expect patients to have different expectations towards the healthcare system. We can easily assume that (current and future) self-care solutions will focus on experience more heavily. These are often made by large consumer companies or small start-ups that will always start from the desired "customer experience". Unsurprisingly, this will create new expectations towards the healthcare experience. People will want to be served conveniently, quickly, and in a friendly manner. We are still a long way from that in healthcare. Yet, the growing influx of patients will become even more demanding, regardless of medical need. Failure to respond to these expectations risks having a seriously negative impact on the commitment (and satisfaction) of patients. Focusing on patient experience in healthcare will become the most significant opportunity in this future self-care reality.


Threat


To emphasise the importance of patient experience, I want to point out what the consequences could be if we do not do this. Covid has taught us that people no longer have confidence in the system if it does not sufficiently meet their expectations or when it pushes beliefs down on them. During the Covid years, we saw fewer and fewer people believing in the science that was forced on them. They turned their backs on healthcare to rely on their self-care. During that period, it was also emphasised that the experience with the healthcare system could have been more optimal. I see these trends systematically increasing in the coming years.


This is not good for the growing tensions that may risk escalating between healthcare and patients. People will, of course, continue to need doctors and medical interventions, but the relationship will not become any easier. This is a shame for several reasons, including that doctors and nurses started from a desire to help people. It is the sector with the most human motivation.


But it is also a shame for an even more important reason: More than ever, people are motivated and actively involved in becoming or being healthy and happy. This drive for self-care is perhaps the most essential evolution in healthcare. However, it risks becoming the most "painful" if we, as a healthcare system, do not recognise it this way. It will likely have little impact if we do not prepare for it as a healthcare system.


I want to end this newsletter with the following plea I made at the Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week:

Above all, let us recognise how significant this self-care evolution is, what it means for the healthcare system and why this is perhaps the most incredible opportunity for a healthier society.

Loved the article? Pass it on! Help spread the excitement of 'It's a Healthusiasm World' by sharing this email with your friends, family, or coworkers. Shine a light on the latest trends by posting about it on your preferred social media platforms. Let's unite and magnify the impact together!


See you next week (probably).


- Christophe -

Professional Speaker on Health, Business & Technology


PS. If you want more thoughts on this self-care trend, listen to the Healthusiasm Podcast, where we discussed the closing of Walmart Health. Yep..., this decision also fits into the self-care Trend.








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