With the Season's festivities now over, many people turn their thoughts to creating - and trying to stick to - a whole series of New Year resolutions... many of which are normally based around creating a happier and healthier year ahead.  Drink less, stop smoking, eat better and exercise regularly must be amongst the most common mantra.  And yet we all know that by February, these good intentions are all but forgotten and we revert back to our typical way of living. So what can innovative product development do to try and improve on this?  Could technology play a role here in making a valuable contribution to health outcomes, whilst also working to reduce the overall burden of healthcare costs?

In the later half of 2011, Cambridge Consultants ran a workshop in Boston, MA, with senior delegates from some of the worlds leading blue chips in health and consumer, such as adidas, Robert Bosch Healthcare, Unilever, and Philips Healthcare, as well as some ambitious start up companies such as MC10 and Innovative Sleep Solutions.  This select group came together to debate the topic of 'The business of health and wellness; engaging consumers and making money'.

Now you may have expected this group to come up with the usual group of apps and gadgets that often get talked about in the media (and our own Rachel Harker talked about these in her blog back in July last year), and it is true to say that there is an ever growing demand for these types of products.  However, for me, the biggest finding to have come out of this workshop was a belief that the established players in the consumer goods and medical sectors face the threat of losing their market position to a whole new generation of algorithm-driven companies as the two sectors emerge.

According to Duncan Smith, who heads up Cambridge Consultants product and system development division, the report explores two key points of view around successful revenue models: one, that profit will be driven by reimbursement for solutions demonstrating a reduction in healthcare costs; two, that success will lie in directly targeting consumers and engaging them in improving their own health and well-being. Both views come together around the prediction that healthcare will become increasingly personalised, moving away from treatment to lifestyle management. Through the innovative use of health data, managed by complex algorithms (not dissimilar to those already used by companies such Google and eBay in their own spaces), the scene is potentially set for a new – dominant – name in the industry to emerge, a company that trawls health data and uses it to help people live healthier lives.

Duncan, along with colleagues who are product development experts in areas such as wireless communications and consumer products, will all be attending CES next week, where they will be exploring how the findings of this report will impact the consumer products market directly over the next five years.  Details on how to get in touch with the team at CES can be found here.