Top Predictions for 2021 in Science, Wellness and Health Tech

6 Min. Read | December 22, 2020

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This year has brought change and awareness to numerous aspects of science, wellness, healthcare, technology and beyond. We asked our executive team what lessons they’ve learned from 2020 and what’s on the horizon for 2021. From our CEO to our Chief Technology Officer, one thing was clear: taking care of your health and well-being will continue to be a top priority. Read on to learn what they each are looking forward to seeing in the new year. 

Future of Healthcare 

“There has never before been a point in time when every single human being was impacted by a common health threat. These extreme circumstances are forcing healthcare providers to shift from reactive to preventative care. While the idea of proactive medicine existed well before COVID-19, the pandemic has cast it into a new reality on a never-before-seen scale as millions await a vaccine. Whereas we have been accustomed to reactive sick care and finding cures, healthcare will more increasingly be defined by predictability, susceptibility and how those insights can protect society’s most vulnerable.” – Trevor Perry, Founder and CEO  

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought the realities of a global-scale health event – and our general lack of preparedness to address it – to the forefront. People are now laser focused on how they can protect themselves and their families against the next inevitable threat. On top of this, social distancing and isolation accelerated development and use of digital health tools, from wellness trackers to telehealth and virtual care, most of which can be accessed from the comfort of our homes. The convergence of these two forces is poised to make 2021 the year for patient-controlled health, whereby health decisions are not dictated by – but rather made in consultation with – a healthcare provider, leveraging insights and data pulled from a variety of health technology tools at people’s fingertips.” – Dr. Salvatore Viscomi, Chief Medical Officer  

“While the pandemic is turning our concept of vulnerability on its head, knowing your susceptibility profile will become part of the standard of care. We’ve witnessed otherwise healthy people succumb to the virus or experience long-term ramifications as a result of infection. This is changing people’s expectations around routine care and creating renewed interest among patients to know potential health challenges and have greater control on actions you can take to approach those challenges. We’ll witness tangible steps in 2021 toward democratizing these data and their ability to inform proactive care and disease management.” – Trevor Perry, Founder and CEO  

Healthcare and wellness will be inextricably linked post-pandemic. Economic uncertainty, childcare concerns, burnout at work and social isolation, among many other factors, has brought stress and its impacts to the forefront of the health care conversation. Normally, society has served as an alleviating force, with evenings out and vacations offering a respite from work and home stressors. With those comforts stripped away, people are finding it harder to simply “get by.” 2021 will see an even greater emphasis placed on sleep, mindfulness and other mental health strategies. Subsequently, we’re poised to see an uptick in adoption of the digital tools and services helping people manage these areas of their lives and general wellness, as people strive for a sense of control amid so much uncertainty.” – Dr. Salvatore Viscomi, Chief Medical Officer  

FDA Regulations 

“2020 demonstrated what’s truly possible when science and technology come together. As just one example, a vaccine that could have taken seven to 10 years to develop is anticipated in less than one. Regulatory agencies will have to reassess their processes for approvals and compliance to keep pace with the advancement of medical and scientific breakthroughs, as well as the speed in which health challenges can spread globally. We’re likely to see the FDA, CDC and other regulatory bodies putting new, more progressive systems in place to support the more rapid deployment of vaccines and therapeutics.” – Brad Hamilton, Founder and Chief Science Officer  

Wearables/Digital Health Tools 

“Acceleration of telehealth and personal health devices, a trial-by-fire of their capabilities through wide-scale adoption, has increased comfort levels with these concepts and reliance on these tools. This also goes for medical professionals themselves. 2021 will see healthcare professionals getting more comfortable with these data, and factoring wearables and at-home testing kits into their assessments and guidance to patients.” – Dr. Salvatore Viscomi, Chief Medical Officer  

Leadership Lessons 

“I could write a book about starting up a company during a pandemic, but there are two key elements that underpin it all: trust and process. Remote work did away with the ability to organically check in on someone or ideate on a new concept. Collaboration and innovation are core ingredients for any successful startup, and you need a high level of trust in a remote work environment for either to thrive. Organizations everywhere are also grappling with a lot of animosity and angst that comes down to the fact that business decisions are happening quickly (often in order to pivot with the needs of the market), leaving many employees out of the loop. Process has been key to learning how to communicate to ensure everyone across the organization has transparency into the rationale behind business decisions while also feeling empowered to have a voice.” – Trevor Perry, Founder and CEO 

Clinical Developments 

“The pandemic demonstrates how rapidly research can respond to and develop therapies. This, paired with the overarching shift toward the concept of using one’s own biology to treat illness – “self treating self” — is leading to an uptick in cell-based treatments. In just the first three quarters of 2020, regenerative medicine set a new annual record of $15.9B in financing, up 242% over the previous year. This trend is likely to continue as a result of the accelerated workflows spurred by the pandemic. Coming out of the pandemic, we’re going to see an even greater emphasis put behind cell and gene therapies for a variety of conditions, most notably in cancer. 

Advances in life science technologies – with greater sensitivity, precision and intelligence – are enabling a deeper study of disease. As our ability to evaluate the mechanisms of disease with more granularity and on an individual patient level increases, the better we’ll be at identifying new and more personalized ways of addressing them. The years ahead will see tremendous strides in genomics, particularly around cell free DNA and single cell analysis, which will be crucial to earlier detection of disease as well as developing new therapies for diseases currently untreatable.” – Brad Hamilton, Founder and Chief Science Officer  

“Before the pandemic, many viewed telehealth and at-home sample collections as less-validated ways to receive samples. However, the pandemic accelerated development of technologies and the integration of telehealth into the collection and testing of biological samples from home. We can anticipate seeing even greater innovation in at-home test collection, and further guidance from the FDA on how best to regulate these processes, as more people embrace the safety and opportunities afforded by virtual care. This could prove critical to adding greater diversity of drug trials and improving healthcare access in underserved communities.” – Brad Hamilton, Founder and Chief Science Officer  

Data Access and Privacy 

“Perceptions of medical data will shift dramatically in 2021, motivated by increased awareness of consumers’ medical information and how it’s shared. The pandemic has brought medical research into the public eye like never before. It has also left many wanting to know more about their own health and how their medical data could be used to help others. However, an inherent lack of trust in companies’ abilities to keep data safe remains an industry-wide challenge. In the coming year, health and health technology companies will not only have to demonstrate they are deserving of people’s data, but also communicate the value that data can provide for the greater good if they are able to access it.” – Craig Eisler, Chief Technology Officer