In the U.S., the latest read on supply-and-demand for COVID-19 vaccines illustrates a gap between what had been promised for the first phase of vaccine rollout versus the reality of supply chain challenges, cold storage, and 50-state and local fragmentation at the last mile for U.S. health citizens.

An op-ed published in yesterday’s Washington Post by Dr. Robert Wachter of UCSF and Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University found these two wise physicians feeling “punched in the face” with the state of coronavirus vaccination in America. As a result, they soberly, pragmatically recommended administering just the first jab of vaccine to as many health citizens as possible, as soon as possible.

Welcome to 2021, and our Long-COVID Lifestyle.

Over the 2020 end-of-year holiday week, we in the KahnCave had countless Zoom, FaceTime, and traditional voice phone calls with family and friends living and dealing with the pandemic around the world, from our towns of Philadelphia and Brussels, and sites throughout California, as well as Toronto, London, Auckland, Madrid, Milan, and Frankfurt.

Globally, universally, our social network collectively believes we’re all in for a Long-COVID lifestyle for at least the first half of 2021. Some of the best clinical minds envision our emerging out of the pandemic later in 2021.

Thus, many people are making plans well into the fourth quarter of 2021, at the same time getting a mental handle on what this means for work, leisure, personal growth goals, and personal and family health.

My immediate workplan has me preparing for the virtual #CES2021, the annual consumer electronics show convening a week from today all-online. Usually I’d be living in Las Vegas for an entire week, absorbing the shiny new things and educational sessions on consumer tech trends and innovations.

At CES 2021, I’m focusing my research and work flow on the home-as-health-hub, which encompasses all aspects of our pandemic era home-based lives as the world over, health citizens (except for our friends in New Zealand) are managing. Here’s my list of consumer-facing tech innovations, whose needs accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis, that I’ll be exploring next week during CES…

Clean home environment – air, water, surfaces. The pandemic raised awareness of public health in broad terms…including the role of climate change in health. As health citizens’ lives shifted inward to doing-everything-from-home, the quality of inside environments and home hygiene has taken on greater awareness and import during the public health crisis. We’ve seen air purifiers, UV disinfecting lights and water cleaning systems proliferate CES aisles in the past few years. I expect even smarter versions of these products for CES 2021, such as the GoSun water purifier that speaks to both health and sustainability.

The connected and tricked-out kitchen for food-as-medicine. One of the pandemic’s gifts in the #WFH and #StayHome lifestyle has been more people cooking and baking. Subscription food services have benefited from this growing life-flow, as well as more people using food-tech and investing in smarter kitchen equipment. CES 2021 will feature healthy connected kitchen innovations, like this LG Air Sous Vide oven that can air-fry (less oil) and enable healthier cooking.

Home as gym and fitness center. Last week, connected fitness company Peloton announced plans to acquire Precor, a mature and trusted brand for fitness in gyms. During the holiday season in 2019, Peloton fell out of favor with some people criticizing its ad campaign. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peloton saw orders piling up, along with company revenues. The home is the new gym-space, and CES 2021 will show off many new business models and technologies to help people get and stay strong and well at home. A good example is the Bowflex VeloCore Bike which earned a 2021 CES Innovation Award. Exercise-as-medicine will also grow as a concept as Medicare Advantage and commercial health plans look to keep patients at-risk of exposure to the coronavirus out of physical healthcare settings where possible, appropriate, and clinically effective to do at home or closer-to-home.

The hospital-comes-home via remote monitoring. Speaking of Medicare Advantage and the challenge of hospitals to meet inpatient bed needs in the coronavirus era, more acute care is being shifted to the home, re-defining what “home care” has traditionally meant. We’ve seen Philips continue to design for this evolving scenario, which I have tracked at CES for several years. Remote health monitoring brings Internet of Things for health to the home via a growing range of devices and “things.” One new example garnering an innovation award for #CES2021 is Origin Wireless, which developed a Wi-Fi sensor bundled with a “Wellness Pod” for caregivers to track patients’ breathing, motion, activity, and sleeping patterns without using a wearable device.

Beauty is health and health is beautiful. In the pandemic, CPG companies have seen a shift in consumers’ spending from color cosmetics to skin health, eye care, and conditions exacerbated by mask-wearing from chapped lips to “mask-ne.” CES has featured a growing category of connected beauty products, including smart mirrors and skin health trackers. In 2021, I’ll visit with the team at L’Oreal who have married beauty with tech innovations for several years. I welcomed their Beauty Tech for Good Challenge, and look forward to their CES2021 updates.

Oral care as part of holistic self-care. COVID-19 and staying home has also grown consumers’ demand for oral care self-care. Dentists have been hard-hit in the public health crisis as many health citizens choose to stay home and postpone in-person visits for dental hygiene. This trend is not lost on companies in the oral health space; last year, I spent a lot of time with several developers discussed in this post from #CES2020 addressing “the Internet of teeth.” At CES 2021, we’ll see more oral health care innovations from the large players in the market, along with some niche players looking to address consumers’ growing use of Zoom meetings driving demand for tooth whitening, among other self-care objectives.

Sleep as a luxury good. The proliferation of new mattress companies advertising during the pandemic could not be lost on those of you streaming TV with commercials. Some are “smarter” than others, but sleep has been a growing category at CES for several years which I’ve been keen to track. I will be exploring the findings from Zepp’s Global Sleep Study done in collaboration with the World Sleep Society (glad to learn that Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is a popular bedtime soothe-song). In addition to Zepp’s sleep tracking approach, there is a growing array of sleep trackers, sleep apnea solutions, and smart beds whose virtual tires I’ll be kicking.

Mental health – the epidemic after the pandemic.  Depression and anxiety are the toxic side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology is seen as part of the solution to addressing growing mental health demands that can scale to large populations and those people who have lacked access to therapy. Telehealth is clearly one pillar in this portfolio (which my own CES 2021 panel will address). In addition, the conference will feature new approaches to dealing with anxiety and depression, long under-served by the health care system. In health citizens’ growing embrace of self-care, mental health care is in high demand across the age spectrum, from youth to elders. Among things that say they deal with mental health will be smart rings, massage chairs, digital head-bands, and “hearables,” devices that work through the ear.

Beyond these categories, I’ll be looking at the latest innovations for heart health, body weight scales, and all manners of smartwatches that year-on-year embed more sensors for more metrics generating more data about our quantifiable selves.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: This all-virtual CES will be one of the largest digital collectives ever convened on a global basis. Every year, I enjoy rubbing shoulders in-person with 140,000+ of my fellow tech-wonks from around the world, and will dearly miss my annual meet-ups with dozens of friends I’ve made in my annual journey to Vegas.

One category that will be hard to study from afar is my annual walk-through with various automobile manufacturers, which I research as cars increasingly join the Internet of Healthy Things — the “new mobile health,” if you will.

One auto company with whom I meet is the Ford Motor Company, a major exhibitor at CES 2021. Ford recently launched this campaign for consumers to “Finish Strong.” Note that Ford quickly pivoted from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to make PPE and manufacture ventilators to help meet the demand for respiratory medical equipment.

The script reads like an empathetic haiku for this moment — and it will inspire you, too.

Let’s hold the line

Protect it

Fight for it

Sacrifice for it

Let’s look out for each other

We are so close

Soon we will be what we were

Touching

Loving

Living

Let’s finish strong.

 

 

Stay tuned to my in-depth coverage of CES 2021 beginning Monday 11th January 2020 through the entire week…I’ll be seeking health-making innovations that can help every one of us not only finish strong, but live strong.

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