In the near future, having an appointment with your doctor online will become as normal as making a payment on an app or booking a taxi through Uber. Through a range of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Telehealth, and Robotics, as well as disruptive market entrants, Healthcare is in line for some big changes. Google, Amazon, and Apple are all eyeing up a lucrative market with built-in inefficiencies. These span from the cost of medical insurance to the length of time needed to get an appointment.
The internet has already become a go-to for medical information, so it’s natural that deeper digital healthcare use-cases are in the pipeline. Our research into consumer perceptions reveals, based on their demands, what these use-cases may be. Easier access to doctors for appointments and better access to health data are the most desired applications for Health technology. But addressing these is not without its challenges. The growth of data privacy concerns over the past few years is perhaps among the most pressing of these. Healthcare, by its highly sensitive nature, is an industry with a particular need to assure consumers of data security.
Similarly, while AI can make huge strides in Health technology, much still depends on the doctor-patient relationship, and the extent to which consumers are willing to give this up is difficult to predict. To test this, we outlined a thought experiment. We presented consumers with a hypothetical minor surgical procedure, giving them two choices of surgeons, a human surgeon or an AI-driven robot. Being told explicitly that the AI could perform the surgery more precisely than the human could, we then asked them which they would choose for the operation. We found that 45% of consumers still chose the human to perform the surgery, while 28% remained unsure. This demonstrates consumer confidence and understanding of AI in Healthcare has a long way to go.
While consumers’ concerns with AI are valid, it’s important to note that AI isn’t expected to go it alone. With the appropriate applications across Healthcare, AI might have the power to free up doctors’ time when it comes to administrative tasks and perform greater precision surgeries, but it will always need some form of human input. In an ideal world, AI and humans will work together and complement each other, and that’s where we’ll really see the capabilities of the technology shine.
Privacy in a Cashless Future: Examining Where Data Privacy Meets Digital Currencies
Data concerns will also play a big part in another of our identified trends; the collision of payments and privacy. The global financial market is poised for huge upheaval in 2020 with two new major cryptocurrency proposals, emerging from two very different tech hubs. Facebook will release Libra, which will theoretically make it the first non-state entity in history to introduce a currency that directly rivals those backed by governments on the world stage. The second will be the Chinese government’s Chinese Central Bank Digital Currency, and, as with Facebook, it’s designed to improve the lives of countless individuals and inject some much-needed convenience into a traditionally cumbersome industry.
But in the buildup to these currencies’ releases, discussions have already begun about what they represent for consumers’ online footprints. People know that their financial transactions leave a trail, but they can usually rest assured that this information is only accessible by strictly regulated companies and national authorities. Not to mention that when we survey consumers about their privacy concerns, they’re most focused on first-party data like their name, address, or income; they are perhaps yet to realize the kind of profiling and identification that can be drawn from spending records.
In the case of these new cryptocurrencies, spending data will become a new frontier for privacy. Both Facebook and the Chinese government are under the spotlight for how they handle personal data, and so 2020 is likely to be an important milestone in the intersection between payments and privacy.
Can I Speak to a Human Please?: The Human Experience as a Premium
There aren’t many places where the role of technology is more at stake than the luxury market. Not so long ago, technology was luxury. In 1984, Apple’s first Mac computer cost the equivalent of more than $6,000 in today’s currency. Fast-forward to 2019, and a basic Chromebook can be bought for $200, illustrating just how access to computers connectivity is no longer reserved for the affluent and high-powered.
The darker side of this democratization of technology is our increasing dependence on it. With increased access to computers and the internet, we are faced with unavoidable, and sometimes damaging, effects on our health, sleep, and relationships. A desire to unplug is fast emerging among consumers. As with many commodities before it, the human touch is becoming a premium.
The data suggests that consumers, particularly the affluent, are already reacting to this transition. Across a range of mature markets, we find that higher-earning internet users spend less time on mobile, desktop and TV. In the US, those in the highest income bracket are also much more likely to remove social media apps or email from their phones and reduce the amount of TV they watch.
The practical implications of this trend span across consumer and B2B industries. As technology leads to more jobs becoming automated, many experts predict that high-touch, ultra-humanized jobs and services will become extremely valuable. On top of this, the move away from technology among the most affluent internet users will redefine the luxury market, placing human contact at the center of it. Companies looking to forge a sustainable path for luxury need to keep this in mind, and evolve from the traditional mindset of designer goods to customized, humanized experiences.