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The Internet of Medical Things, telehealth and virtual & augmented reality are three top digital trends in the health and wellbeing industry.

1. Internet of Medical Things

  • The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) was identified as a top digital trend in the health and wellbeing industry based on the fact that a wide variety of industry experts are currently highlighting this trend, including global researchers (e.g., CES, Global Wellness Institute), top-tier media (e.g., CNBC, South China Morning Post) and technology leaders (e.g., Apple).
  • According to innovation research group CES, the IoMT is an emerging concept in the health and wellbeing industry that encompasses technology products and services such as wearables, medical/vital monitors and health-related apps.
  • Notably, the IoMT market is forecast to exceed $136.8 billion by 2021, driven by the convenience afforded by these devices and their growing availability and sophistication.
  • Currently, IoMT is active in categories including weight control, lifestyle monitoring, cardiac monitoring, glucose and blood pressure measurement and treatment notifications.
  • In particular, mental health apps are a highly popular emerging category in the IoMT space, with Apple reporting that mental wellness and mindfulness apps were the top app trend in 2018, while the South China Morning Post highlighted meditation apps and tools as the fastest-growing wellness trend in America in 2019.
  • Moreover, MarketWatch reported that consumers spent $32 million on the category of mindfulness apps in 2018, including Calm, Headspace and 10% Happier.
  • Meanwhile, companies such as Fitbit straddle multiple aspects of the IoMT space, providing wearables, real-time data reporting and apps (in this case, with well over 10 million downloads).

2. Telehealth

  • CES, Global Wellness Institute and Fast Company note that telehealth is growing in partnership with IoMT products, and is expanding to include a variety of virtual health and wellness interactions such as video conferencing, remote patient monitoring and consultations via mobile devices.
  • While Fast Company reports that approximately half of consumers currently feel less comfortable with telehealth visits than in-person interactions, PA Consulting Group asserts that younger consumers are increasingly looking to telehealth options are more “efficient, cost-effective solutions.”
  • In particular, the Global Wellness Institute notes that virtual therapy platforms are a burgeoning category in the telehealth space, with new platforms such as TalkSpace, BetterHelp, Amwell and Rethink My Therapy becoming popular.
  • Rethink My Therapy CEO Richard Rosenblum adds that such telehealth options are the “wave of the future” in the health and wellbeing industry, given the convenience and access of such remote consultations are driving adoption.

3. Virtual & Augmented Reality

  • Finally, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were chosen as another significant, if less commonly discussed, industry trend based on the mention of VR/AR as an emerging theme in health and wellness by CES, Global Wellness Institute, CNBC and Fitt Insider.
  • CES notes that VR and AR are relatively similar in that they both involve the projection of generated images. In the case of AR, these artificial images are displayed onto the real world, while VR encompasses the user in a completely artificial world.
  • Although Fitt Insider asserts that VR/AR in the health and wellbeing space has “over-delivered on hype” and under-delivered in every other respect to date, the fitness expert adds that the integration of VR/AR into VR-enabled workouts and other wellness industry segments is a “foregone conclusion.”
  • CES and the Global Wellness Institute elaborate that VR/AR tools are already showing success within therapy tools for PTSD survivors (e.g., recent study in Frontiers in Psychology), medical education and diagnosis.
  • Moreover, CES suggests that there are many new health and wellbeing areas where VR/AR can be used, including psychological relief and treatment, exercise scenarios, pain reduction and visualizations.
  • Overall, CES comments that the adoption of VR/AR is being driven by its potential to offer “more effective and risk-free care” in a variety of spaces within the health and wellness industry.
  • Meanwhile, Fox Business reports that MIRROR, NordiTrack, Peloton, Runtastic and YUR are all companies at the forefront of this trend.
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