Columbus, OH — For more than a decade, our Insights and Innovation team at Syneos Health® has practiced trends-based innovation — tracking clues from inside and outside of healthcare and transforming these disparate inputs into annual collections of emerging trends that capture the broader shifts relevant to the work of life science leaders.  In recent months, countless promising technologies and tools have been announced by startups and established players alike, many of which are poised to transform the way we will manage and treat chronic illness. The following is but a snapshot of tomorrow’s tools that we anticipate will change the way patients and healthcare providers manage chronic diseases.

Spotlight on: Movano’s Glucose Monitoring Smart Watch

According to the CDC’s latest data, 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, accounting for nearly 35 million lives in the US alone. In a nutshell, diabetes causes significant elevations in blood glucose levels (among other symptoms), and most treatments aim to lower those numbers… but go too low, and patients risk severe complications. For decades, ever-more affordable blood glucose monitors have allowed patients and caregivers to check these levels at home to inform medication dosing and meal planning via test strips — but these systems relied on frequent painful finger pricks and required a good deal of manual dexterity. In recent years, progress has been made yet again through the emergence of constant glucose monitors (CGMs), like Abbott’s Freestyle Libre, which have opened the door to the real-time tracking of patients’ blood sugars levels. In fact, these systems have even demonstrated distinct clinical benefits, reducing hypoglycemic events and improving A1C control vs. traditional blood glucose monitoring. But today’s CGMs still require users to insert a sensor under their skin that can wirelessly connect to a separate monitor to track current and historical glucose levels.

That’s why Movano’s forthcoming tech looks so promising. The company is currently developing its first product: a smartwatch capable of measuring and tracking blood glucose levels completely non-invasively: forgoing finger sticks or inserting anything into the skin. Instead, the system relies on a combination of advanced RF sensors and skin antennas that can measure glucose levels in real time without anything intrusive. The current prototype looks far more like a sleek smartwatch than a medical-grade device, and that’s precisely the point. Not only will the tech be non-invasive clinically, the user interface will feel far more like an everyday consumer checking her progress towards fitness goals than a patient monitoring her disease.

Why This Matters —

Behavioral science shows us that this distinction matters. In our team’s book Why We Resist: The Surprising Truths About Motivating Behavior Change, we distill decades of academic research and clinical practice into straightforward concepts immediately applicable to the healthcare space. The 9 Principles of Influence include one particularly relevant here. Principle 5: Self is a Social Phenomenon helps us see that as humans, we’re constantly defining and redefining who we are through the lens of what we see others around us doing, saying and sharing. When we see peers seamlessly tracking and tailoring their health with tech, we’re more likely to join in as well. But when we feel a device, treatment or tracker is obtrusive and obviously different from what our social group establishes as the norm, we’re resistant to its adoption, even when we know it’s important to our wellness. In that light, it’s clear that Movano’s next-gen wearable — and other seamless, subtle health tools like it — hold so much promise for the future of chronic disease management.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.