For wellness, the overwhelming issue to watch over the coming months is the debate over wearable devices. With insurers and companies now collecting streams of health info from patients and workers, huge concerns are emerging. These predictive tools risk becoming prescriptive ones, with monumental ethical, legal and practical implications that we haven't even begun to grasp.

Monthly Barometer: Wellness Edition
A prediction from renowned economist Thierry Malleret…

Innovative insurance companies are now leveraging big data supplied by wearable devices to generate streams of information that help them make better pricing decisions and also encourage their policyholders to make better “wellness” decisions. As an example, companies such as Oscar—a U.S. health insurer—provide their clients with a wearable fitness tracker free of charge. This allows them to identify which policyholders display “healthy” behaviour and enables them to provide monetary incentives (like premium rebates) to encourage customers to be “well.” Companies such as BP do the same with their employees (in North America) to encourage them to perform better.

As the sophistication of these analytic models and wearable devices improves, we will see more and more companies (particularly in the financial industry) working to nudge their customers towards “better” behaviour and more prudent risk management. Fitbit is a case in point. The company says in its IPO prospectus that one of its five strategic goals is “to further penetrate the corporate wellness market.”

There is a big concern in all of this: these predictive tools risk becoming prescriptive ones, with monumental ethical, legal and practical implications that we haven’t even begun to grasp.


   Thierry Malleret

Thierry Malleret

Thierry Malleret is the co-founder and primary author of the Monthly Barometer, a predictive analysis provided exclusively to private investors and today's most influential opinion and decision-makers. Previously he was a senior partner at IJ (Informed Judgement) Partners, an investment boutique for ultra-high-net-worth individuals based in Geneva. Thierry also founded and directed the Global Risk Network at the World Economic Forum (WEF), bringing together top policymakers, CEOs and academics to consider how global issues will affect business and society in the short and long term. For a number of years, Thierry conceived and implemented the WEF program at Davos. He holds MAs (in economics and history) and a PhD in Economics. He writes a Wellness Edition of his Monthly Barometer, exclusively for the Global Wellness Institute. For a copy of the full report, join the GWI as a Member or Ambassador.

AuthorThierry Malleret, Economist and Founder, Monthly Barometer