2015 crystal ball‘Tis the season for annual health trendcasting, which is part of my own business model. Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite trend reports for health care in the new year, with my Hot Points in the conclusion, below, summarizing the most salient trends among them.

TechCrunch’s Top 5 Healthcare Predictions for 2015: In this succinct forecast, Walmart grows its presence as a health plan, startups get more pharm-funding, hospitals channel peer-to-peer lending, Latinos emerge as a “most-desired” health care segment, and Amazon disrupts the medical supply chain.

Experian 2015 Data Breach Forecast: Healthcare security breaches will be a persistent and growing threat in 2015, with “the expanding number of access points to Protected Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data via electronic medical records and the growing popularity of wearable technology,” based on this credit/risk management company’s assessment. The value of medical identity threat is very high. As a result, the FBI warned the health care industry that their security systems were insufficient compared with other industry sectors, according to Reuters.

Top health industry issues of 2015, PwC Health Research Institute: Do-it-yourself healthcare, moving from mobile app to medical device, balancing privacy and convenience, innovating to manage high-cost patients, evidence-bases for expensive specialty drugs, transparency, dealing with the newly-insured in health plans, extending primary care, re-defining well-being for Millenials, and new partnerships in the health care ecosystem rank in the Top 10 trends cited by PwC.

Grim Outlook for Healthcare, Hospital Sector in 2015: rating agencies: This Reuters report analyzes the top ratings agencies in healthcare — Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P — to conclude that the larger the health care entity, the more financially stable it will be in 2015 given the vagaries of reimbursement on the top-line, lower demand for inpatient services, and fast pace-of-change for health providers expected in the new year.

Well+Good’s Fitness Trends for 2015: Among this wellness website’s forecasts for 2015, shorter (more intense) workouts, social networking for healthy cooking, and making your home kitchen your personal smoothie bar are key trends that fit into Health Populi’s lens on the growth of consumers’ HealthcareDIY.

Mashable’s 5 digital health trends you’ll see in 2015: Wearables for the ear, sweat sensor strips, smartphone-connected medical devices (like AliveECG from AliveCor), prescribed medical apps (such as BlueStar from WellDoc for managing diabetes), and health-related lighting comprise One Medical Group’s Leyl Master Black list of key consumer-facing tech trends for the new year.

6 Food Trends You Need to Know About for 2015, Eat + Run from US News & World Report: What’s the next kale? Eating more smoked foods. Consuming more bitter flavors. Pistachios in more dishes like pizza, pancakes, and guacamole (part of the Eating in Color trend). More plant-grown protein. Delivered food ingredients for home cooks. These are the top food trends noted by US News.

Consumers’ Influence on Health IT in 2015: Here’s my own forecast, focusing on health consumers’ demands for convenience, access, privacy/security in health care, underpinned and enabled by health IT in the new year. Published in iHealthBeat, 16 December 2014.

JWT’s Future 100 for 2015: Consumer trends that will impact health and health care cover food (bone broth, haute vegan), beauty (for Boomers, and digital/stress impacts on physical health), innovation (aging, tactile technology, 3-D printing), lifestyle (“now” instant gratification, sports branding, mindfulness), retail (24/7 shopping, un-branding), travel (wellness tourism, thought leadership tourism), technology (prosthetics, “premium invisibility,” cognitive technology), among others.

Enter 2015-Health Goth is the New Athleisure: As a response to the Lululemon athletic clothing fashion scandal, some fashion-conscious exercisers (like me) propose going all-black in the gym and in your workouts. Style.com’s Steff Yotka talks about the Health Goth trend (which I personally endorse due to its low-cost and always-current black). Yotka points to the fact that “Health Goth” was the second most-searched fashion trend-phrase sought in Google in 2014 — ahead of “athleisure” and “wearables.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  As people continue to more into health consumers, they’re making more financial and clinical decisions for themselves and those for whom they care. These responsibilities will continue to grow and burden people in the U.S. and is a growing trend for health citizens in both developed and developing countries, as well. Consumers’ growing use of technology, highlighted by JWT, PwC, Mashable, and my own forecast in iHealthBeat, will underpin and enable people to doing more DIY health care at home and in lower-cost settings, such as accessing virtual visits with physicians on their mobile phones and computers. People will also seek to use food in health, cook more at home for self-satisfaction, cost-savings, and health reasons.

Health care providers (doctors and hospitals) and health plans are facing unprecedented challenges in terms of financing (reimbursement and payment) and marketing to these empowering consumers, who see health care more as a retail service as their out-of-pocket spending on health care becomes more transparent and a more visible component of the household budget. The ratings agencies warn that health providers’ financial footing will be more challenged in 2015, and if consumers continue to opt out of seeking care in inpatient settings and doctors’ offices, then that concern will push into 2016. Some analysts posit that the lower rate of increase for health care spending in the U.S. has been due to consumers’ being exposed to more direct costs.

As a result, consumers will seek health solutions in novel places (THINK: the new retail health), prompting the call for health care providers and plans to partner where people live, work, play and pray. The nature of exercise and fitness will be redefined by people who don’t fit into the typical notion of “athlete,” instead seeking to become the best “self” they can be in relative terms. Wearable technologies, fitness products and fashion, food, and a more social sharing economy will all play a part in peoples’ seeking more health, wellness and vitality in life and outside of the health “care” system in the new year.

The spectre of personal health information security will play out in the new year in different ways, depending on the consumer’s level of illness or wellness: research shows that people who are dealing with serious health conditions are more willing to share their personal information for research “for good,” as PatientsLikeMe has learned and research in which the organization participated bore out. At the same time, many well people using health apps are unaware their data may be being scraped and mined by third party data brokers that may be informing FICO scores and other consumer indices that could impact peoples’ future ability to buy insurance, get a job, or obtain a mortgage. This issue will receive further coverage in 2015 as more data breaches impact the health care industry, and some consumers and advocates call out for greater regulatory scrutiny.

More people beyond the uber-engaged will get more activated and develop new muscles and competencies to manage and DIY their health in 2015. Speaking of Uber, we’ll see continued expansion of the Amazon-ification of health in the New Year.

Wishing you all an empowered, health-activated, and peaceful 2015…