• Joanna Sterkowicz

Five digital wellness trends to watch


People will increasingly use devices to manage their personal well-being, such as for monitoring diets, sleep patterns or emotional health, as well as for managing exercise programmes or developing a meditation practice.


This is one of five shifts in our relationship with technology predicted by the Global Wellness Institute’s Digital Wellness Initiative, which forecasts that from a medical perspective, both patients and physicians will turn to technology as their first point of reference. Healthcare will be increasingly delivered via technology, and diagnosis will be increasingly performed by artificial intelligence.


“Serious questions are taking root around technology’s impact – and threat – to human culture,” says Jeremy McCarthy, the Digital Wellness Initiative’s chairperson and global director of Spa & Wellness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.


Under McCarthy, who is also the author of The Psychology of Spas & Well-being, the recipient of the Global Wellness Summit’s first-ever Debra Simon Award for Leader in Furthering Mental Wellness, and winner of the 2019 ISPA Visionary Award, the Digital Wellness Initiative predicts the following trends:


Big Tech Answers Back with Wellness: We can expect more tech companies to hire digital wellness experts to help them develop and enhance their products to ensure they are not so disruptive to their users’ well-being that they begin to lose market share.


Rise of ‘Tech Ethics’: Technology companies will not only need wellness experts, they will also need experts on ethics to determine the ethical issues of what technology should be allowed to do. For example, should the services we use be able to sell our data to third parties for profit?”


“We’ve spent most of the last century thinking about what we could do with technology. The answer seems to be clear: almost anything. Now, the question is what we should do with technology,” comments McCarthy.


Demand for Transparency and Privacy: Recent Facebook scandals about privacy have sent people looking for newer and better alternatives. New subscription-based services are emerging that offer greater transparency, greater privacy and more freedom from corporate advertisers, which will shape consumers’ expectations into the future. Examples include Medium and the search engine DuckDuckGo, which promises not to monitor users’ data.


The Rise of Wellness Tech: Despite the privacy backlash, technology will take mindfulness mainstream. Mindfulness meditation will follow the same meteoric rise in popularity that yoga has experienced because mindfulness is the best approach we have for understanding the algorithms of our mind. Ironically, technology will help solve this problem with apps and programmes, such as Head space or Waking Up, to help people develop their mindfulness skills in a radically more accessible way.


The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is considered the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry. GWI positively impacts global health and wellness by advocating for both public institutions and businesses that are working to help prevent disease, reduce stress, and enhance the overall quality of life. Its mission is to empower wellness worldwide.

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