The era of living services Accenture across livesTwo forces are converging to shape a new era of “living services,” Accenture posits: the digitization of “everything” and consumers’ “liquid” expectations — which are demands for personalized, engaging and adaptable experiences.

Accenture’s report on this phenomenon, The Era of Living Services, spans the broad range of consumers’ daily lives where these services will impact: homes, families, transportation, shopping, leisure time, jobs, finances, education, cities, and above all for Health Populi readers, “our bodies.”

Living services are physically close to us, as Accenture sees them, “wrapping themselves around the everyday things we do.” They are digital services that are aware of our context — what we are doing, where are doing it, perhaps even how we are feeling. On the upside, these services can positively drive healthy living choices: fitness, nutrition, blood testing for chronic disease management, financial planning to lessen money stress, smoking cessation…all based on sensors that we can wear, or place in strategic sites in our homes, our cars, and our workplaces.

As sensors, these devices collect data about us (again, in context) which populate algorithms that are designed analyze the information and communicate to us to influence our behaviors — whether what to cook for dinner depending on our blood sugar level, what physical activity to undertake given our heart rate or sedentary style through the day, or when to turn off the light, stop binge-watching Netflix, and get to sleep.

For more on the growing phenomenon on sensors in health, see Making Sense Out of Sensors in Health, my report published by the California HealthCare Foundation.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Accenture’s report quotes the Pew Internet report on self-tracking, stating that 60% of U.S. adults track diet, exercise or weight, and 21% use technology to do the tracking.

Susannah Fox, who wrote that report (now Chief Technology Office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), explicitly turned the self-tracking statistic on its head, noting that at least one-half of people were still tracking activity “in their heads.” I wrote about this in-depth here in Health Populi. There’s not a lot you can do with Big Data when the datum is trapped in a consumer’s head, or even an Excel spreadsheet – another common tracking tactic found in the Pew study.

The opportunities offered by Living Services in health are broad and deep. The art of leveraging these opportunities will be to create a package of interlinked products and services, Accenture says, focused on the individual customer — that N of 1. This perspective will help pharma move “beyond the pill,” and physicians and healthcare providers to rationally take on financial risk to manage population health. Digital health technologies deployed through the Internet of Things, coupled with personalization, can “breathe life” into networked sensors and target motivational messages and services.

For health, these “things” aren’t just medical goods and devices but smart refrigerators, cars and beds — all of which can interlink and enable industry to get to that last mile of health to support consumers’ self-healthcare and deeper health engagement.

But the intrinsic motivation for people to health-engage is a factor missing from this optimistic forecast. We’re still cracking behavior change, notwithstanding the realities of fantastic technologies that stand at the ready to help support those personal health choices and changes.

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