Trends for The Future of MedTech: Insights from WGSN's Futures Summit, Melbourne

Note: This event and article was written in 2017. We are extremely grateful to WGSN for the insights and opportunity to attend, and hope you find it useful.

We’re fascinated by trends from diverse industries, and how they impact healthcare. Patients and medical professionals alike are also consumers, and as we all grow more empowered through tech, we’ll find more trends cross-pollinating from healthcare to other industries. Similarly, it’s fun making predictions and seeing how they fare. 

We were delighted to attend WGSN’s Futures Summit in Melbourne and learn about their work. WGSN are the world’s leading body for trend prediction and analysis in areas such as fashion, design, activewear and textiles. They crunch data through curated studies across the world, helping brands create products that better serve the world’s consumers. 

If you’re planning your next app, wearable, social enterprise or public health innovation, or even considering investing, here are some insights we picked up (and which are coming to fruition as we speak!.

1) The world has shifted from the Experience Economy to the Meaning Economy.

Lorna Hall, Head of WGSN Insight, described how we’re shifting to the Meaning Economy, where consumers’ ideal products are selected based on depth of emotion and sense of purpose, rather than the pure functionality or entertainment of previous generations of goods.   

This is a reaction to geopolitical instability combined with the growing awareness of tech’s ability to both engage with and isolate users, bringing out more loneliness, stress, and symptoms of mental illness. Meaning is also conveyed through the rise of the sharing economy.

In a practical sense, we see this through products being created not just for entertainment, but for the nurture and care it brings the user beyond immediate experience. Perhaps it’s a reflection of our connected generation, where we’re used to linking with strangers across the world after a tragedy. “(We have) a need for more products that care for us,” explained Ms Hall, and indeed we’re starting to see care being communicated through the language and design of medtech websites, along with the pleasing design of activity trackers and mobile apps. An interesting example was e-skin, printing electrodes onto tattoo paper, creating a simple wearable that can change the volume on your phone, for example, and potentially other functions (we’re imagining being able to trace your ECG through smart wireless electrodes one day!). Meditation and mindfulness apps, some with gamification, are also increasingly part of the Meaning Economy.

2) Experience Design will incorporate Personalisation as part of the Meaning Economy

“There is opportunity in reading emotion,” said Gemma Riberti, the Senior Editor of WGSN’s Design and Product Development division. If you can customise your handbag’s initials or even change the colour of your future car according to your mood on the day, you will be able to curate your own experience in healthcare.

Personalisation also goes beyond reading emotion. Activity trackers and consumer-grade wearable biosensors are evolving to give health reminders when data points (such as high blood pressure) are detected. Consumer-grade genetic testing kits are also gaining popularity as part of the personalisation trend. Additionally, as part of her Wellness presentation, Greer Hughes, Consultant Director of WGSN Mindset APAC predicted the rise of startups based on our increasing understanding of the gut microbiome’s potential effects on physical health and wellbeing. The ethics of generalising test results from “personalised” DNA kits to fit a wide range of customers is an issue to consider when weighing up the benefits of such products, and it’s worth remembering that the Therapeutic Goods Administration and other official bodies help to regulate medical grade versus consumer grade products and devices. (There are also jobs for doctors interested in being part of the TGA approvals process!)

3) The Maker Movement and acknowledging the links between Creativity and STEM produce more healthcare solutions designed by non-healthcare professionals.

We love cognitive diversity, and clearly, WGSN does too. Monash University design student Nathan Huo won the WGSN and Artsthread award, with his app Mindcare storing and retrieving memories (photos and other media) for people affected by dementia. Inspired by his family’s own personal experience through dementia, Nathan also included augmented-reality gaming within the app, serving as a fun and useful memory aid for dementia sufferers that family can enjoy using as well. Collaboration with non-medical creatives will be on the rise as hackathons, co-working spaces and job mobility increase around the world, and we hope events and blogs (like ours :) ) help promote that sense of diverse thinking and wonder. Imagine when design becomes a key part of medical education!

4) People will either fully embrace wellness products or shun them completely

Greer Hughes, Consultant Director of WGSN Mindset APAC, took the audience on a timeline tour of the wellness industry’s growth. Currently, her consensus is that in 2018, people will either fully embrace wellness, or experience an “absolute backlash” towards it. The saturation of news stories and social media posts about superfoods, alternative therapies and wellness retreats likely contributes to this. This poses an opportunity (as ever) for medical practitioners to learn and understand the sentiments behind embracing wellness fads: the fear of the unknown, as a patient; and thus the need to empower oneself and take charge of one’s health, as a consumer. Non-medical consumers clearly want to understand the science behind health trends; it’s when an “us versus them” approach can be permanently harmful to the doctor-patient relationship.

If clinicians take charge by forming medically-sound, evidence-backed wellness apps and products, for example, mindfulness-training apps, then consumers will have more medically-approved choices available. Asking the patient/consumer what they want as a part of human-centred design is a great method to produce multi-user integrated apps such as CancerAid and telehealth platforms such as Lysn

5) Work cultures are becoming more inclusive and collaborative

Wellbeing at work is transforming employment patterns and work environments around the world. We feel this as a response to higher burnout and stress rates at work; with recent studies across the globe showing a higher number of workers taking sick leave in numerous industries, and the effects of overwork on organisational productivity. Additionally, burnout has been linked to loneliness at work. The growth of coworking spaces and shared work communities such as WeWork will help companies innovate, not only through the value exchanged when a small startup shares office space with Facebook or Hewlett Packard; but also through flexible working policies, and a greater understanding of what drives workplace retention: a sense of purpose (hello, meaning economy!). WeWork Australia’s General Manager, Balder Tol (who was Airbnb Australia’s first employee!) shared the benefits of workplace collaboration, and WeWork’s vision for Australia as it continues to roll out across the globe and acquire other companies such as coding academy Flatiron School. Cognitive diversity is acknowledged when teams share resources across organisations, and build workforces based on diverse educational and cultural backgrounds rather than being of similar skillset and training.

We’re seeing this in medicine as well. Never before has there been so much focus on doctor and clinician wellbeing, and clinicians’ mental health. Creating positive workplace cultures in hospitals and clinics, especially in the fast-paced Acute Medicine world, will help doctors and other healthcare workers feel valued, even through stressful times. Websites like ours (we hope!) help to shed light on the true meaning of being a clinician in the 21st century; the struggles, the highs and lows, the uncertainties, and the humanity and strength that grows from these experiences. It’s incredible seeing how more doctors are feeling comfortable blogging and sharing their experiences, to help bring positive change across the world. We suggest following some of these websites: Dr Eric Levi; Doc2Doc; and no doubt many others around the world.

6) The future of mobility and smart cars in healthcare

Nissan Australia’s Managing Director, Stephen Lester gave an inspiring talk about Nissan’s vision that helped us think about the future of mobility in healthcare. Autonomous driverless cars will help ferry time-critical goods such as blood products and organ donations from one place to another. And how about the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on a car’s function, perhaps being able to monitor a passenger’s medical devices and biometrics while on the go?

7) As more of Facebook’s VR and AR functions are released, new and existing startups will pivot to include these in their products and marketing strategies.

Facebook’s APAC Head of Tech and Telecom Strategy Jason Juma-Ross gave attendees a sneak peek at some of Facebook’s and Hololens’ innovations, due for rollout in 2018, including augmented reality integrated into the News Feed. We’ve seen VR headsets being adopted by the mass market, and Facebook creating VR Spaces and developing its Messenger and Live capabilities. Facebook Messenger is already being used by chatbots to help triage and support users facing mental health problems. Imagine how AR will be able to enhance that communication.

Further Reflections: Cybersecurity and Ethics

We all know that AI, augmented reality and VR will mature and become more widely adopted by consumers. Security is the concern as users increasingly want more, now, and connected devices gradually outnumber consumers in 2018, with businesses scrambling to please customers as fast as they can. If IoT devices like smart fridges or Amazon Alexa can be hacked, and retail outlets reportedly use facial recognition to track shoppers’ behaviours, more needs to be done to protect the public. Participating in cybersecurity and ethics discussions at a local level, or even at an Elon Musk-level, will help consumers make safe and meaningful choices when pursuing good health and wellness.

Thank you to WGSN for providing The Medical Startup with a media pass, and to Jennifer Callegari for her help coauthoring and editing this article. 

This week: AMA Queensland's Junior Doctor Conference

Coming up this weekend is AMA Queensland’s annual Junior Doctor Conference.

There will be many sessions available to help boost your career and friendships in Medicine, whether you’re from Queensland or interstate; working as a doctor, or as a medical student.

I’m looking forward to Chairing the Tech in Medicine panel on Sunday; we’ve been busy preparing and rehearsing our questions and sessions, and I’m excited to see the other sessions, too!

(Image courtesy of AMA Queensland)

(Image courtesy of AMA Queensland)

There is tons on Career Planning; variations on this year’s theme of Crossroads, including Alternate Career Paths in Medicine; how to land that College place of your dreams; Clinical Skills workshops; medicolegal issues; and other current topics that junior doctors face in Australia and around the world.

Tickets are still available; there’s also a Cocktail night on the Saturday night; and you’ll get to make new friends and enjoy Brisbane while at it! Previous conferences have been fantastic for building new skills and knowledge to set you up for the wards. #whattheydontteachyouinmedschool

For the full program and tickets, please visit AMA Queensland’s website.

Fear is the Enemy of Creation

Something I’ve been thinking of recently.

Is Fear synonymous with Perfectionism?

Fear of screwing it up?

Fear of not getting it right the first time?

Fear of looking like a fool (a usually unjustified concern)?

Fear you’ll launch and sell not one item?

Fear you’ll screw up your job interview and miss out on your dream job?

Are you fearing what others might say and think about your choices?

Does it really matter?

As long as you’re choosing something you’re passionate about, and believe in, by action you can convince yourself.

It’s all about learning along the way.

And acknowledging your fear.

Seth Godin says here to “acknowledge” the fear and shame. Don’t fight it. “I listen to it and do it anyway. And that is where we’re going to make the impact.”

It’s being mindful of it.

And recognising your power to conquer your fears.

What are you scared of most?

Is it really that bad?

Write down three actions you can take to challenge it.

Fashion and Sustainability: How Can Medical Workers Get Involved?

Next week, I’m excited to attend LEGACY Summit, presented by Ndless: The New Normal and Fashion Revolution.

LEGACY Summit is a Responsible Fashion Summit. It will have huge talks and workshops on sustainability; ethical work practices; the health issues of the textiles and fibres we wear and consume; and the impact of fashion on our planet. Whether you’re a startup, a consultant for McKinsey (who’ll be there too!), a student, or a curious industry outsider wanting to learn more, it’ll be fantastic to attend and meet great friends sharing the same interests.

It’s incredible (and btw, heads-up for my new project below!), and I can’t wait because it’s something I don’t really get to talk about with other doctors except as a consumer.

Living in Cairns last year, everyone was very conscious of sustainable living and recycling practices. The Great Barrier Reef is on our doorstep, and Banana, Sugar Cane farmers and Daintree rainforest residents and visitors coupled with the proximity to cyclones and the isolation of rural living meant that locals were very conscious of how we could save the planet, one small step at a time.

That includes being one of the first cities in the world to promote paper straws at their bars. Kids running projects like Straw No More on Instagram have done huge things to promote international awareness. Locals were alarmed that international tourists would be served canned drinks on board the Reef ferries; and then find that plastic straws included with the cans were often dumped into our beautiful ocean!!

Coral bleaching from global warming was also a frequent topic in the Cairns Post, and even the changing lifestyle habits of crocodiles were discussed in the media as a potential consequence of global warming. (Hint: the risk is higher in the summer, or wet season in the Far North. But really, just don’t swim in the waters up there, and beware the yellow signs warning of crocs!)

Anyway, as healthcare workers, and as a doctor, I frequently find that I’m having to explain myself when I tell even close friends that I like fashion.

Yes, I love getting dressed up, I love understanding my style choices, and I LOVE understanding the impact of textiles on my own body when dressing for humidity vs frigid temps (and that’s been a frequent consideration when flying between Cairns and Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania in winter!).

But I also love global health, and the fact that the whole world, from Hong Kong Tatler to Calvin Harris to our supermarkets, is talking about sustainability. (Medical Pantry is also inspired by this!)

I think it’s silly and ignorant to dismiss fashion as frivolous. We could spend all day talking about the body shaming issues that have led many to believe this. But as the planet’s largest industry, as clinicians and healthcare workers (and social enterprise startups!), it would be amiss of us to not acknowledge fashion as an important topic that can be worked on by doctors, nurses, physios, dietitians (plant-based fibres, anyone?), podiatrists (think of the great sole materials that can be made from fabric offcuts! Think of Allbirds shoes and other cool startups!), and others in medicine and healthcare.

At any rate, our patients care. It would be wrong to not acknowledge that.

Tickets are still available for Legacy Summit. Other ways you can get involved in the conversation:

1) Attend talks like those at VAMFF (on this week!) and other local fashion festivals

2) Participate in Fashion Revolution

3) Form a blog. Yep, I’m putting together a new blog and podcast, Incredible Wearable, that will explore the intersection between fashion tech, sustainability and health. You can start by following @incrediblewearable on Instagram.

4) Advocate with your College if you’re a member. The RACP has a portal for Climate Change resources for Doctors, including links to The Lancet studies.

5) Open your mind and heart to the possibilities when you don’t silo industries and topics into separate categories. Garment workers in developing nations working in factories with poor ethical practices suffer the health consequences of these practices. Healthy eating for the planet is also an important topic that’s related. EAT Foundation is a recommended resource to get involved with.

6) Global Ideas and other global health events and forums, and webinars, and ecourses, and MOOCs (see our Resources page!) are all great ways to get involved and learn. Once we grow together, we’ll have stronger voices to advocate for all this.

What are your thoughts? How are you involved in sustainable fashion?

Is #BalanceForBetter? International Women's Day 2019

This International Women's Day, and for all the days after it:

- I pledge to be kind to myself, because I know I haven't been; 

- I pledge that I will look after my health and wellbeing as well as I look after others'

- I will cheerfully accept that as women AND men we can't "have it all" or "do it all" at once, and enjoy knowing there's a season for everything

- I will take more walks, see more trees, swim more seas, and relax with Mother Nature

- I won't worry about the future; it hasn't happened; the past was a kind teacher, but the present is where we need to be

- I relish the journey, and enjoy each minute, being patient for the destination;

- I see "balance" as a continuum, as not equal halves or thirds or quarters in life, but more as a "flow" and that relieves pressure for women everywhere; 

- I am content and happy, and hope that you all are, too.

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

#BalanceForBetter  #IWD2019

Empowerment through eLearning in Medicine

You may have noticed on Instagram- I’ve been working on developing online courses.

The courses will have a difference to what’s existing already. There are literally thousands of fantastic courses online that will help you learn to code, sew, speak Spanish, and more.

But nothing out there exists specifically for medical workers and the entrepreneurially-minded out there, from a medical perspective, from real experiences.

How does startup thinking apply to you as a doctor, nurse, physio, engineer and so forth?

Where do you start when a great idea comes to mind?

What’s the truth about how clinicians really feel at times- burnt out, exhausted, demotivated, self-loathing even? How is this similar to how entrepreneurs in other industries feel? And how can all of you learn from these experiences and overcome them, or at least start to tackle them when you’re on the go, on rotation in the middle of nowhere, a busy parent on night shift, or taking a gap year overseas?

I realised that, by exploring all these topics the last three years, even when it wasn’t clear to me at first (this whole blog started by accident, after all!), the whole journey has helped me in my own personal and professional life.

I went through all of this myself, was burnt many times, and know what lies are out there, what superficial constructs have been built supporting the “Silicon Valley mindset”, how toxic this can be to you as a compassionate person who works in healthcare or wants to start in healthcare, and how the medical world is similar to this.

And also, what’s changing about these worlds, to accept more human elements, more authenticity, more vulnerability, and more real sharing of experiences and ideas.

Thinking of your path as your own Startup is one way to start healing yourself, to build resilience, and to encourage yourself when you’re alone, when you feel misunderstood, and things seem tough. Even if you never start your own tech company, it doesn’t matter. We can all learn from startup thinking, even if your pursuit is actually in art or music or sport.

And that’s the thing. From Day 1, I was keen to feature people who are like me- creative as well as in STEM- to help transform the dialogue in medicine, that we are just what our job roles say- RMO, RN1, Dietitian, and nothing else beyond that. What happened to the extracurricular activities we loved in school, and how they were promoted as part of our curriculums there?

I felt ridiculed and even stupid for having a strong creative passion from childhood, and trying to marry this with medicine, which I also enjoy. Really, we all use creativity to some extent in our daily lives. From showcasing interviews with photographers, magicians and jewellery designers, to gaining confidence for my own journey in the creative industries, and to being approached to help start other ventures, this journey has been incredible and taught me a lot that I can share with you, too.

I’ll keep you posted- best is to sign up to the Mailing List at the bottom of this page, and/or follow on social media; if any questions about what particularly you’d like to learn or are struggling with, please send me an email at info (at) themedicalstartup.com.

Thank you for being part of our journey throughout, can’t wait to share more!

Cheers,

Louise

Success At All Costs?

I touched on this briefly in my New Year’s post.

What saddened me when I dug deeper into medical startups in 2016 was that, quite often, success was seen as something to achieve at all costs, with no respect for customers, colleagues, or the wider community.

Even if a brand has a carefully constructed facade, it will all fall apart behind the scenes if you don’t genuinely care.

Coming from the similarly ruthless world of physician training, I found it very disappointing, especially when startups and the entrepreneurial world are trying to attract more clinicians.

Most clinicians are attracted to healthcare because of the caring aspect. They genuinely want to help make a great contribution to people’s lives, through direct patient-clinician contact.

That compassion and vulnerability can be misused by unscrupulous individuals and companies, and even with a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, the WHY behind the company can be lost.

Is any industry safe from this?

No.

But it’s up to us, the individuals, to keep our values in mind, and live them.

For real.

Are you living your Mission Statement?

Thank you, 2018 :)

It’s strange sitting here, 1.5 hours before midnight in my home city, 2.5 hours til 2019 in my current one.

But it’s a great time for reflection, particularly when you and your other half saw the Early fireworks as he’s oncall tonight.

2018 was a huge year for me.

One of my faves, Ariana Grande herself said it best- “I find it interesting that this has been one of the best years of my career and the worst of my life.”

I guess personally, it wasn’t the absolute worst it could have been for me, but it definitely had a huge amount of challenges that really rocked me- but also gave me the extraordinary chance to reset and reframe the difficult situations in my personal life.

You can dread each day and its challenges, or you can reframe it to be uplifting for someone else who’s going through a hard time.

Every day counts.

I really believe that, no matter what challenges your career throws at you, you and your loved ones come first.

They’re your anchor, they’re your reason, your “Why” in most cases.

And you should never be ashamed of putting your wellbeing first.

Because no matter how big your career gets- and I believe that your career is your startup - you’ll enjoy it more when you respect yourself.

If you need more time before saying “Yes” to a project, ask for it.

If you feel pressured to work weekends and public holidays because that’s “the startup way,” but you’re actually more productive just working on odd weekdays, go ahead and set your boundaries.

If your personal circumstances mean it’s more favourable for yourself and your family if you work a bunch of part-time and casual freelance roles, go ahead and do it.

If you feel your co-founder’s doing something dodgy, reassess and consider trusting your instincts.

If someone’s being two-faced, don’t be afraid to call it out.

If you love doing several other things along with medicine, allow yourself to do it.

Give yourself permission.

And many more examples like this.

Everyone will be better off for you owning your power.

—-

Someone wise I met recently gave me that wonderful piece of advice.

“Own Your Power.”

Own your decision-making capability, your strengths and skills, your relationships, your identity.

People will try to take advantage of your vulnerability.

So-called “friends” and “partners” in startups and medicine will show their true colours to you, even when the rest of the world can’t see it immediately.

It’s disheartening. It can be isolating, and you can question yourself and your perception, wanting to believe you’re wrong.

It’s okay, because questions are healthy, and I’ve learnt how valuable it is to be mindful, and become more self-aware.

It’s a great defence mechanism, mindfulness. I’ve found it’s a great decision-making tool, productivity booster, and mental health balm. (Ooh, I should package that! Next to the lip balm jars!)

But I guess my rambling here right now is to say,

THANK YOU.

Thank you, 2018, for teaching me even through my weaknesses and dark times this year.

Thank you for giving me the chance to grow stronger.

Thank you for helping me to speak my truth.

Thank you to every single one of you who stumbles across my page; who reads my articles from way back when; who follows and likes (for real) my stuff on social media; who has become a true friend from this crazy journey; who has bumped into me at some event or clinic somewhere around the world and said hello; who believes in me even when I don’t; who believed in me even when it doesn’t all make sense.

I can’t wait to share 2019 with you all.

Have a wonderful New Year and enjoy the celebrations :):):)

*I think I am serious about the mental health balm!

Course Suggestion: Machine Learning on Coursera

Who wants to learn some tech skills in a flexible, free/low-cost learning environment?

Taught by Andrew Ng of Stanford, the Stanford Machine Learning course on Coursera is one of Coursera’s most famous courses; it actually launched the famous Coursera platform! Easy to learn and quick to understand, it’s a great course for learning ML concepts quickly and effectively. It’s a course I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and finally, I have time for it.

Start at https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning/home/welcome.

What other tech courses have you done online?