2017 was quite a year for public relations. From fake news to influencer crackdowns, to breaches and major healthcare policy changes, it was a challenging year for PR. But as we move forward into the new year, there are some interesting trends on the horizon. At LPP, we discuss our predictions for 2018 – and cover off on healthcare, technology and the communications industry itself.
Here are our 2018 predictions.
Healthcare Industry Predictions
On Who the Winners will be in Healthcare
Over the last several years, consumer tech companies decided their shiny new toy would be healthcare. There was tons of money to be made and a huge national – and global – problem to solve. While they were well-poised from both visibility and technology perspectives, they quickly realized the amount of time and money involved in closing deals with any health system. So, they tried their hands at consumer health. And, while many companies have been somewhat successful, they’ve recognized that in order to make an impact on healthcare overall, whatever solution is developed must have buy-in from not just the consumer, but from across the entire healthcare chain – patients, clinicians, health systems and pharma. Moreover, they found that every consumer is incented individually – making any one-size-fits-all approach they may have developed, very ineffective. I think over the next several years, we’ll continue to see mergers and acquisitions from the “big boys” – like the one we recently saw with CVS and Aetna. Winning companies will be the ones who recognize that it takes the entire healthcare chain to work together if you want to really make a change.
On the Future of Medical Wearables
Consumer wearables and their potential within healthcare have been a hot topic for several years now. As consumer adoption of these devices increases and clinical applications of wearable technology continue to evolve, we can expect to see expansion of medical-grade wearables. While watches and bands are the most popular forms of consumer wearables, they may not be the answer for the accuracy required by healthcare. In September, the FDA announced it would be working with several companies to create guidelines for digital health platforms. This is indicative of the industry emphasis to make better, more accurate software programs, which includes analyzing data from wearables. In 2018, we will see considerable improvements to the accuracy of information coming from wearables and the software supporting these devices, which will allow for broader adoption in the healthcare industry.
Technology Industry Predictions
On the Future of Edge vs. Cloud Computing
One of the most interesting changes facing businesses today is the emergence of edge computing. What’s wild is just as IT settled on cloud approaches for most applications, along comes the edge to turn networking, data center models, analytics and connectivity upside down. Where do you stand? Will the edge “eat” the cloud as Gartner’s Thomas Bittman stated previously? Or, will IT pros find a way for edge and cloud to co-exist peacefully? I think the edge is here to stay as it makes sense to put networking and processing power closer to the action. But, I’m excited to watch what businesses do, see how major cloud players address the edge, and track new, cool companies looking to make a name for themselves in the edge in 2018.
On the Intersection of Fintech and Blockchain
“Fintech” is now just part of today’s finance world. If a business, bank or institution thinks otherwise, they are already behind. Technology enables consumers and businesses to interact with their funds today. Fintech is not going to shake up banking in 2018 – that shakeup has already happened. Instead, we can expect that this reality will become more widely accepted. And, as we talk about financial trends, it’s hard not for blockchain to come up as Bitcoin continues to dominate the headlines. Currently, blockchain and Bitcoin are almost synonymous. But blockchain’s appeal is that it is a decentralized, public digital ledger. As we move through 2018, we’ll start to see how this technology can improve society. Dubai announced the government will be based on blockchain by 2020 – and it’s this kind of real-world example that may move blockchain to the technology forefront. 2018 may be the year blockchain unmarries itself from Bitcoin and becomes more real.
Communications Industry Predictions
On Crisis and Issues Management
Crisis communications has always been thought of as a separate part of a PR program. For the most part, crisis comms has had a reactive approach. More recently, companies have gotten better about being more proactive – creating plans ahead of time to prepare for the worst. Now, we’re seeing the line between traditional PR programs and separate crisis communications plans blur. Going into 2018, I expect to see the line continue to blur and soften – crisis communications will become an ongoing part of any PR program. Essentially, we’ll see a reframing from crisis communications to issues management whereby companies are more proactive in how they plan for any situation that may affect them.
We look forward to seeing what 2018 holds for healthcare and technology and communication’s role in addressing the challenges, successes and changes.