Predicting the Future
Are you struggling to predict the future and where the world is going? There are plenty of futurists who offer their vision of where the world is going but as Freakonomics pointed out some time ago – these predictions are typically not held to account so our capacity to assess the accuracy of these predictions is limited
there’s no person on the other side of the transaction who draws any real benefit from embarrassing you by bringing up the bad prediction over and over. So there’s nobody who has a strong incentive, usually, to go back and say, Here’s the list of the 118 predictions that were false. … And without any sort of market mechanism or incentive for keeping the prediction makers honest, there’s lots of incentive to go out and to make these wild predictions.
There is some good advice on those aspiring to be super forecaster and helpful in assessing predictions of others. But where might you start if you are looking for insights into the future – children of course. I heard recently that one of the keenest insights you will get about the future comes from children. It makes sense – children are born without the prejudice and baggage we develop over time living in a world that influences our thinking. As we age we lose some of this capacity over time – for sure we all try to retain our unencumbered view of the world but it is hard.
Try the experiment with your family – thinking back to my kids and one of their school projects I remember my daughter’s concept of an automated learning system that would load up her brain while she slept at night. Not as far fetched as you might think as seen in the DefCon biohacking movement and the scientific community continues to explore these concepts (Scientific American: Do DIY Brain-Booster Devices Work? Jan 2017). In fact, recent reports suggest some progress and FDA approval for brain stimulation for treatment of depression.
The Millennial Generation
Millenials have been receiving a bad rap recently – they represent the largest demographic in the US and are the subject of much focus and attention as a result. The group continues to expand and while there are some negative stereotypes and views of an entitled and self-obsessed genre – I agree with Matt Anderson that they Don’t deserve the bad rap they get. They make heavy use of technology and possess a different set of skills in large part because of the different world they grew up in. That was made clear to me some years ago when my son asked us to buy a razor to be able to shave. Like my father had done many years ago I offered guidance but was informed there was no need as my son would “You Tube it“. In the past year, 70% of millennial YouTube users watched YouTube
In the past year, 70% of millennial YouTube users watched YouTube to learn how to do something new or learn more about something they’re interested in. This same self-starting attitude plays into their well-being with 47% of millennials saying they’ve watched YouTube videos to improve their health or feel better after feeling down. Attitudes are more open and accepting with individuals much more likely offering open honest sharing of their own struggles – reducing the stigma diseases or disorders of the brain. A hot topic when I posted this piece on “Treating Mental Health” here and on LinkedIn.
47% of millennials saying they’ve watched YouTube videos to improve their health or feel better after feeling down Click To Tweet
Google introduced the concept of MicroMoments in 2015 and I listened to a presentation at the Asembia conference back in 2016 by Ryan Olohan, the National Industry Director of Healthcare where he talked about the concept and the large increase in health related searches. These small moments of searches offer insights into consumer and patient expectations and marketers have been using these insights to help guide their activities – and we should too in healthcare. The clear message from this and the Millenial generation is the “Right here, right now” expectations
People take for granted that information is at their fingertips and tailored to their specific needs. But the thing about human beings is they never stop wanting that little bit extra. It’s becoming evident that they’ll keep raising the bar, wanting more useful information, more personalization, more immediacy.
How do we take advantage of that in Healthcare?
MicroMoments in Healthcare
Searches and access to information have moved to the mobile platform and patients are turning to their phones for guidance and advice – in fact, mobile searches for “Best” of things has grown by 80% in the past 2 years. In healthcare that means that any information you are providing online needs to be optimized for the mobile platform – if it’s not you will lose your audience or quickly frustrate them if you don’t create content designed for consumption on mobile devices.
Consumers are also demonstrating an affinity to brands and companies that understand the “here”. Where someone is when they searched is information that’s available and it’s no longer good enough to offer an option for “near me” – the constant expectation of wanting a little bit extra, the incremental expectations of your customers, requires that you now must gather enough contextual information to provide more specific responses.
In its simplest form that can be location based information but in the healthcare environment that extends to the context of an appointment or blood test results and even clinical data about a patient from the medical record for the clinician.Imagine the Electronic Health Record that displays the context of a patient currently in front of the clinician attending for a minor cough but the system displays the context of their health record highlighting their inclusion in preventative screening and population health management that identifies them at increased risk of Diabetes and offers specific interventions to mitigate or even prevent the disease. Stickiness and loyalty in healthcare are not driven by locking information but by delivering customized information and services.
Imagine the Electronic Health Record that displays the context of a patient currently in front of the clinician attending for a minor cough but the system displays the context of their health record highlighting their inclusion in preventative screening and population health management that identifies them at increased risk of Diabetes and offers specific interventions to mitigate or even prevent the disease. Stickiness and loyalty in healthcare are not driven by locking information but by delivering customized information and services.
Generational View of our Healthcare Future
Looking into the crystal ball through the eyes of millennials we see some opportunities for incremental improvements to match these emerging needs
- Make Everything Mobile Friendly – it’s not good enough to have just a mobile friendly web site, you have to think about all aspects of your business and information you offer including your appointment process, repeat prescriptions etc
- Capture the Context at Every Opportunity
- Use Context to Provide Better more Targeted Information and Services
- Facilitate the use of the Mobile Platform – Walgreens has created a number of frictionless mobile application experiences driven by customer insights and an eye to the future
Science Fiction Writers are insightful thinkers who often push the boundaries. Back in 1964, sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke introduced “Horizon” (the long running BBC science program) by stating:
The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So, if what I say to you now seems to be very reasonable then I’ll have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.
Clarke predicted among other things GPS systems, remote surgery, telecommuting and the emergence of the Internet.The constant march of incremental expectations will keep pushing the envelope of what your customers desire Click To Tweet
Just be warned, needs will only continue to increase, no matter what great contextual insights you have, it won’t be enough as the constant march of incremental expectations will keep pushing the envelope of what your customers desire. People will want to be more informed, have more personal experiences, and get things done even faster.
Do you have any better suggestions? What small change have you seen that makes a difference to improve your ability to accurately predict the future? What one thing could we do that would have a big impact in this area?
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