Enriched by cutting-edge tools like DNA testing and wearable devices that provide data once requiring a trip to the doctor’s office, consumers now possess unique opportunities to unlock critical insights about their personal healthcare data.
Today’s healthcare empowerment economy is driven by technological advancements and consumer demand for personalized health insights. But are these high-tech tools necessary to live a healthy and fulfilling life? Or are they just one aspect of a multifaceted approach to empowered healthcare?
Empowering Health Through Tech
With advancements in technology, the availability of vast amounts of health data, and an increasing emphasis on individual well-being, personalized healthcare is now the required approach for many individuals.
Among the choices patients now have are a wide selection of home tests, which have emerged as a convenient method for learning about unique health risks, monitoring key health indicators, and tracking long-term trends. From DNA testing to personalized health apps, here are just a few of the avenues consumers are leveraging to gain insight into their health.
DNA testing has witnessed an extraordinary surge in popularity, with consumers eagerly embracing direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits to unlock the secrets of their genetic blueprint. Market analysis reports have found that in 2022, the global genetic testing market size was valued at nearly $7.4 billion. These kits have revolutionized the way people access information about their genetic predispositions, ancestry, and even potential health risks. With a simple saliva or cheek swab, individuals can now gain personalized insights into their unique traits, genetic diseases, and carrier status.
One of the most compelling aspects of DNA testing is its ability to shed light on potential health risks. By analyzing specific genetic markers, these tests can provide individuals with valuable information about their susceptibility to certain diseases and conditions. Armed with this knowledge, consumers can then make informed decisions about lifestyle modifications, early screenings, and preventive measures to mitigate their risks.
Product and retail experience brands are tapping into this more DNA-educated consumer, offering products and services that counter, boost, supplement, etc., the more clear genetic picture made available.
Individuals are seeking a deeper understanding of their hormonal health and its impact on their well-being. Hormone testing allows individuals to assess their hormone levels and identify any imbalances that may be contributing to health concerns or affecting their quality of life.
The latest in at-home hormone testing kits allows individuals to easily gain valuable insights into their hormonal profile without visiting a lab. This information can help pinpoint the root causes of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings, or low libido. Armed with this knowledge, individuals can then work with their healthcare professionals to develop targeted interventions or treatment plans. As with the market around genetic markers, a number of product brands are coming online with messages that speak the language of hormone testing results.
Food Sensitivity Testing
Nearly 32 million people in the United States have a food allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Food sensitivity testing has emerged as a popular approach for individuals who want to identify specific foods or ingredients that may trigger adverse reactions. These at-home testing kits provide a convenient and accessible way to uncover potential sensitivities or intolerances by measuring the body’s immune response.
If consumers can trust at-home testing, it can help them to make informed dietary choices and optimize their nutrition. But, while food sensitivity tests are becoming increasingly popular, one of the biggest questions that linger is whether they are accurate. Some studies have shown that the money spent on these at-home versions may not pay off in the end. A study published in Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology found that the presence of antibodies like IgG, which home kits typically test for, can be unreliable indicators for food sensitivity.
For many timekeepers, the standard watch has been replaced with some sort of smart device, maybe an Apple Watch, that can do more than just tell time. Wearable health devices allow users to track a variety of health metrics, from heart rate to sleep patterns, activity levels, stress levels, respiratory rates, and blood oxygen saturation. By simply slipping on your watch, you can access valuable data that helps you monitor and optimize your overall health and well-being.
Research shows that the number of individuals donning a wearable recording device is skyrocketing. In 2022, there were approximately 216 million smartwatch users. That number is expected to grow to more than 224 million users by the end of this year. And nearly all wearable health monitoring device users are, in fact monitoring the data that their watches are providing. Nearly 92% of smartwatch users say they are taking advantage of the data and using it to manage their health.
Health Apps and Platforms
A countless number of health apps and platforms have flooded the marketplace to supplement that smart device and help users track their health data and access educational resources. These tools allow individuals to take control of their health by monitoring their fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being, as well as connecting with healthcare professionals remotely for consultations or healthcare advice.
A mobile health app usage survey found that more than 63% of U.S. adults have used an app for health-related purposes over the last year. Of those who use fitness or general wellness apps, nearly 6 in 10 do so on a daily basis.
Connecting While Living Off the Grid
In an interconnected world driven by technology, it may seem that if you want to take control of your health, you’ll need to be completely immersed in digital tools. However, not everyone is eager to embrace the constant stream of data and connectivity, and many prefer the alternative.
Despite living and working in this digital era, there are meaningful paths for those who want to maintain control of their health while intentionally staying off the grid or at least out of the database. By focusing on holistic practices, people can forge their own unique health journeys. In fact, “low-key living” can have substantial health benefits, experts say, especially when it comes to mental health. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.
Disconnecting from technology and living a slower lifestyle can not only help reduce stress but help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Experts say disconnecting can help you achieve personal growth as well, creating an environment where you can pursue your goals and interests without being distracted by the opinions and expectations of others.
Stepping away from technology can even be a powerful way to develop a strong sense of self, which allows you to build confidence in your abilities and talents. In turn, this confidence can help you build an authentic life that you’re excited to share with others and connect with others on a deeper level. Your relationships can soar by focusing on quality over quantity since you are working to build strong and lasting connections with others built on respect and understanding.
While adopting new and emerging technology can provide several self-empowerment healthcare options, the slow-living movement has its benefits as well, especially when focusing on mental health. This begs the question, which is better? Experts say the key is to create your own tempo.
Still, there is no doubt that people crave personal knowledge and the self-empowerment that comes with it. When it comes to insights into a person’s health, technology will likely continue to shape the way we approach healthcare and inform an economy of wellness options.