Article 2CV

Health Tech: Where the cool stuff (still) is

Invent something innovative, interesting and in a class of its own, and you won’t go far wrong. Easier said than done, of course. And harder and harder to achieve.

But the health tech sector has seen more than its fair share of transformative gadgets in the last few years, and the announcements at CES in January continue this trend.

10 years ago, wearables were just a novelty – a solution looking for a problem. They’ve now grown to be a $60 billion industry with an annual growth rate forecast at over 10% year on year.

We are in a perfect storm: the ubiquity of mobile apps; Covid changing how we work and how we look after our health and those of loved ones. All of these have come together to continue the explosion of healthcare related tech innovations. When I visited the CES show a few years ago, I was struck by just how genuinely innovative, novel, and, well, just plain clever some of the product launches were. This year’s crop of launches proves that this creativity is still thriving.

Three of my favourite health tech launches from CES 2023:

  • Withing’s U-Scan – a sensor that goes in your toilet bowl to track the hydration and nutrient levels in your urine;
  • The smart stethoscope from Aevice MD in Singapore – a wearable stethoscope that continuously records chest sounds and analyses them using an accompanying app;
  • The Evie smart ring, designed in the style of costume jewellery, which monitors a wide range of biometric stats, from ovulation to step count and oxygen saturation. It also flexes to allow comfort for when fingers get swollen.

Great though these are, not every fantastic innovation will translate into a successful business. In the race to get to market, it’s all too easy to presume that what’s worked in the past will work in the present. Many fall by the wayside due to lack of investment over the long term, ineffective messaging or not choosing the most effective price point.

Before launching a new product or service, smart marketers will do their research to check whether there’s a genuine market for those new products and services: something more than just a novelty factor. Even smarter marketers won’t just do research with their customers and prospects: they’ll also research their channel partners and market influencers. Both consumers and business customers are increasingly reliant on the opinions of people and sites they trust, so it’s vital to get these people on board.

When it comes to new concepts, doing market research doesn’t just mean asking people what they think about your new innovation and how much they’d buy it for. It’s about understanding the underlying needs it addresses and what the emotional drivers are as well as the rational ones. Wearables haven’t just helped fuel the boom in health tech innovation; they’ve also triggered new innovations and applications for the market researcher. We’re using wearables to collect neuroscientific data to get a truly complete understanding of what a customer really thinks – even if sometimes they themselves don’t realise it or struggle to describe it. Where health tech goes, there’s a good chance the market research industry will be following.