Looking Forward: Health in the Digital Age

With improvements in healthcare technologies come the advancement of human potential. So much so that the question has to be asked: will people one day be able to engineer the best physical version of themselves? According to our recent study on personal sustainability, people are open to doing exactly that.

GIF01-Personal-Sustainability-v05-350pxIn an exploration of the impact of health’s arrival in the digital age, Facebook IQ commissioned insight and innovation experts Crowd DNA to consult experts, interview influencers and survey people in Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and the US (data are on average across the countries). We also looked at Facebook data to see how people are talking about personal optimization in each country. In this third post in the Tech Transformations series, we look at how tech is currently empowering people to take charge of their own health and what the future may hold for the intersection of these two fields.

A new set of KPIs to track and share

Thanks to technology, people today aren’t just charting their own destinies, they’re studying them. They’re tracking their diet and physical activity, monitoring their sleep, posture and mindfulness and mapping their genetics. And they’re including others on their journeys: on average, 1 out of 4 people in Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and the US say they like to share their physical achievements with family and friends.


As health-related tech is becoming more available to more people, optimal health is becoming an all-inclusive club. The number of people who say that a healthy lifestyle is a luxury that only some can afford is surprisingly low, with only an average of 44% of people in Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and the US saying they agree with this statement.

On Facebook across the four countries, we saw an 11% average growth in conversation related to personal optimization from September 2014 to August 2015, with the US leading in total volume of conversation and South Korea seeing the fastest growth (52% YOY).1 Women are leading these conversations at a rate of 1.73X more than men.1 And older Millennials (25–34s) are responsible for nearly half of the conversations.1


Staying forever young

People already feel like they are becoming more and more conscious of their health and how to improve it (73% on average across the four countries). But they don’t just want to improve their mental and physical health, they want to sustain it.



And they’re only getting started: 67% of people we spoke to in Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and the US say that everyone will continuously track their health and fitness using technology within the next 5 years.


The next 10,000 steps

People want to use tech to control and revel in their future wellbeing. 44% of people surveyed in Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and the US are interested in swallowing a pill-sized digestible sensor that can monitor and transmit health information to a mobile phone or computer. 63% are interested in finding out more about what their genetic makeup/DNA can tell them about how to live a healthy life. And 57% go as far as to say they would use a prosthetic limb to regain control of their movements if they lost a limb.


Stephen Davies, a digital health consultant in London, thinks tech could revolutionize health even further. “In the future, it’s predicted that we’ll have these nanorobots going through our blood vessels, cleaning out our blood, replacing our bad blood with good blood,” he said.

People’s interest in future optimal human performance also extends beyond the physical, with 53% of people we spoke to saying they are interested in wearing a device that can track their brain activity to make recommendations for improving their emotions and behavior.


What it means for marketers

Make it about the journey: As technology caters to more and more of people’s health needs, they’ll have time to focus on other aspects of their lives. Brands can ensure that good health is met with experiences to remember—experiences that make life worth living—because people won’t remember the number of steps they took on a given day, but they will remember a service or product personalized to their specific needs.

Join people on their path to health: Health-related apps and services are making people feel younger for longer. What can your brand do to contribute to this phenomenon? Consider how your brand can be part of people’s lives as they explore what longevity means for them.

Keep a pulse on consumer behavior: Device adoption has the potential to increase by up to 6.4X in the future, and people are open to a wide variety of future high-tech health solves. Following shifts in people’s expectations when it comes to using tech to serve their future wellbeing can help brands anticipate market needs and be ahead of the game.



1 Facebook internal data for people ages 18+ in NG, SK, UK and US, Sep 2014–Aug 2015 (accessed Nov 2015). Growth lines for each topic are normalized for platform growth and are based on keywords identified in the “Tech Transformations Study” by Crowd DNA.
Source unless otherwise specified: “Tech Transformations Study” by Crowd DNA (a Facebook-commissioned study of people ages 18–64 in NG, UK and US and and ages 20–64 in KR), Oct–Nov 2015. This study included interviews with 11 experts, 60 qualitative participants and 4,000 online survey respondents. Data are on average across all countries. Unless noted, findings were consistent across all markets.