There are two main threads emerging from CES 2023, one of the world’s largest annual tech gatherings.

One is that health tech innovations continue to have a life in an increasingly post-pandemic world. Wearables are a draw for both the health and tech sectors while telehealth shows staying power following its peak usage in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantines of 2020.

The other is about an evolving media landscape that is shifting from legacy content sources to streaming platforms. How advertisers and the brands they represent choose to navigate these changing times is open for debate. 

Publicis Health Media President Andrea Palmer spoke with MM+M from CES in Las Vegas to outline the industry trends she’s following at the conference.

Telehealth has staying power

Though there was something of a mad rush at the start of the pandemic to set up virtual care services, which have predictably fallen off as the world has gone back to in-person meetings, Palmer said telehealth is finding a more permanent role going forward.

She noted that while many patient populations have largely gone back to in-person care visits, there are specific cohorts, like parents with small children and the elderly, that continue to rely on telehealth in a post-COVID world. While likely not a core care delivery model, telehealth has proven its worth in terms of filling in the gaps. 

“The question becomes ‘How does telehealth become a mainstay? What’s the right role for it to play in perpetuity?’ Telehealth had some effectiveness, it had some efficiency. There are a lot of benefits to telehealth for the consumer, the healthcare provider and the system in general,” Palmer said. 

Wearables and sensors value simplicity

So many patients have Apple Watches, Fitbits or other similar devices, but the potential for wearables in the healthcare system of the future is not lost on the crowd at CES.

Palmer said that health sensors are increasingly focusing on simplistic designs and user experience in order to achieve greater adoption among consumers and gather as much meaningful health data to positively impact outcomes.

She added that consumers aren’t looking for more wearables but rather more effective and capable ones, leading manufacturers to emphasize pragmatic devices that feature useful technology rather than “inventing sensors for the sake of inventing sensors.” 

Streaming continues to ascend

On the media side, Palmer said that the word “currency” has been used in several sessions discussing the streaming-dominant media landscape.

Advertisers and media companies alike want to know how to evaluate streaming usage and television performance in order to adjust their practices accordingly. While there isn’t a consensus between ad buyers, sellers, and content creators about evaluating streaming analytics, Palmer noted that they’re all trying to get to a place of commonality.

She added that it’s important that streaming has fully entered the mainstream in a way that clients recognize. 

“Behaviorally, we could see that the shift was happening and as the stewards of our clients’ advertising dollars, for several years, we’ve been pushing them to migrate some of those ad dollars from more traditional ad spend into where consumer behavior is going,” she said.

Underscoring the importance of broadband access, digital health literacy

Palmer’s final note from the conference stressed that attendees in panels and sessions have been in constant conversation about improving broadband access and digital health literacy across the country.

Without that reliable infrastructure in place, it hampers the ability of vulnerable patient populations to access digital health solutions and make informed decisions about their health.

She said she was hopeful that provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill would address these disparities and offer more people access to services like telehealth and other crucial digital health services.

To read a January 2024 article about CES 2024 and the future of pharma advertising explored, click here.