The development of health and wellness has changed almost beyond recognition in very little time at all. Three hundred years ago, people still widely followed the theory of humors. They thought that draining excess blood was a good standard of medicine. One hundred years ago, smoking was considered a great way to relax the larynx. Fifty years ago, one approach to mental health was to apply electric shocks to certain parts of the brain. It’s fair to say that health and wellness innovation has come a long way in a short time.
The development has not stopped. Innovation in personal health and wellness continues to change the way we look at healthcare in exciting and revolutionary ways. New horizons have been spotted, and pioneers in the field rush to explore the full richness of their potential.
The healthcare revolution
Like any fundamental changes in practice, healthcare innovation is driven by the challenges that the field currently faces. People in developed countries live longer lives, tend to be sedentary, and eat diets that aren’t necessarily the most balanced. This is placing further strains on health systems as they currently stand, and technology is driving forward to find new solutions.
Adding to all this are various developments in independent fields. The rise of artificial intelligence, smart communications, and breakthroughs in engineering have opened new pathways that beforehand had not been properly realized.
Among the more exciting trends to arise in health include:
The notion of using wearable accessories to monitor biometrics is nothing new. Any half-decent sports or fitness store will carry watches that track everything. From your heart rate to your body fat percentile. But new developments in the technology may allow for greater insights into personal health. Such as tracking the nutritional value of the food we eat to better assist with dieting.
Linking in with wearable monitors is another realization that has been quite slow to the health sciences. Everyone is different, and there’s no perfect “one size fits all” approach to health care. As we recognize just how diverse people are, and how our approach to health must be optimized to the individual, greater research is being done into how to personalize and tailor healthcare. Whether it’s better choosing supplements to avoid allergies, or recommending fitness programs that are fine-tuned to people’s specific biorhythms, health is becoming much more diverse than before.
Although the effects of gene editing on the human body are still being researched, the applications if successful are potentially limitless. Right now, the current intent is to replace non-functioning genetic strings with functioning strings. This allows cells to function normally. Many question marks remain over the world of genetic medicine, but scientists and researchers are constantly pushing the boundaries.
An ageing population across much of the western world is seeing more and more elderly patients requiring long term care. This sees increased strain on hospitals. One way hospitals are trying to accommodate this increased demand is by providing new methods of patient-doctor interaction. Telemedicine provides more convenient access to health-related information and services, such as medication reminders or biometric monitoring.
The focus in personal health innovation has been making healthcare more accessible. Particularly for demographics who traditionally have been neglected by mainstream industries in the past. The emphasis on digital solutions to health have opened it up for entirely new audiences, making access easier and more convenient.
Many people may have restricted access to doctors and health professionals. The use of technology in providing health-related information and services is serving to democratize the industry.
Health and wellness pioneers
One focus has been on yoga—a sport largely stereotyped as being the purview of middle-class white women. This is unfortunate, as yoga is a health experience that everyone can benefit from. Black Zen is a startup app launched that explicitly tries to provide guidance to African American women, with daily tips and guides and a weekly podcast.
It also tries to bring in its audience by creating more of a party atmosphere, breaking out the traditional molds that yoga typically falls into.
Another growing trend within personal health is the rise of vegetarianism and veganism. This usually comes from several vectors, whether it’s concern for animal welfare, concerns about impacts on the environment, or concerns about personal health. As more and more people reject meat-based products in favor of vegetarian alternatives, companies have sprung up to corner the market.
Good Catch seeks not only to address the environmental damage overfishing has on marine life, but also provide healthier plant-based alternatives to people’s diets. One product it just released is cans of tuna-fish-style alternatives made from chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans.
Finally, Parsley Health seeks to radically alter the way we approach primary healthcare. With locations across the continental United States, its doctors seek instead to address the primary lifestyle choices that impact people’s long-term health. In addition to more routine practices such as surgery, prescriptions, and consultancy, Parsley Health physicians also coach their patients into making the necessary changes to health habits that can promote higher standards of living.
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