The future of healthcare will be fueled by entertainment.
And it won’t even be recognizable as “healthcare”.
But rather just a part of our daily lives.
While health content isn’t new, health entertainment is taking a new approach to stealthily improve our wellbeing as a byproduct of great storytelling.
From Akili Interactive’s FDA approved video game to Headspace’s meditation Netflix show, the silos of health, entertainment and technology continue to break down, creating a new narrative for healthcare that meets consumers where they are: on their screens.
Beyond “info-tainment” and educational programming, entertainment technologies are advancing to the point where great entertainment improves our health outcomes.
Here are three ways entertainment is being leveraged to improve health outcomes:
As wearable devices become more ubiquitous, health data will become overwhelming and meaningless without some sort of guidance. Communities exist that help members make sense of their data (see fitbit), but even with data visualization, wearables and the data they produce needs to be reconnected to the user’s daily life. Wearables will need to cultivate a storytelling space that helps users understand what’s happening to their bodies. Or transport users into a story world where their wearables play an intrinsic role in their journey. Alter Titan, a fitness RPG (Role Playing Game) that syncs with your wearable, is one of the forthcoming health entertainment experiences that is leaning heavily into storytelling to improve fitness.
What’s next: Beyond fitness, we will see entertainment experiences emerge that blend wearables with storytelling, helping users improve their behavior for more complex conditions, like asthma or hypertension.
Although Calm and Headspace have already given us streamable meditations, we will see TV programs be used to treat conditions.
For instance, have you ever been deeply upset and were able to distract yourself, maybe even calm down, by finding an escape-worthy Netflix show? Or if you have young kids, perhaps you put on Bluey to help soothe your child after an unfortunate owie. Yes, I know TV is a great escape, but if TV can be just effective at calming us down as Xanax, then maybe we’re not far off from getting our health insurance to cover our Netflix subscriptions.
What’s Next: as TV becomes more immersive, expect to enter your favorite shows and be able to explore them in AR. AR game play has already proven an effective tool to increase physical activity, so why limit it to games and instead let people explore their favorite TV shows. If I can go on a run with Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek or fight next to Geralt of Rivia, I wouldn’t consider it exercise. It would be a continuation of my favorite stories. It would be entertainment.
Character Driven Healthcare
Much like Disney and Phillip’s pediatric MRI collaboration, our favorite entertainment characters will start populating our healthcare experiences.
Taking a cue from consumer products, health interventions will start featuring lovable characters and more fan worthy designs, being a part of our favorite story worlds. If we can have Mandolorian toothbrushes, surely we can have glucose monitors that look like they belonged to Bobba Fett. Entertainment licensing will start pushing the boundaries of health devices and care, making health less alienating and a lot more fan worthy.
What’s Next: Entertainment companies taking an active role in healthcare. Beyond character licensing, entertainment companies will use their storytelling expertise to improve health engagement and create better health outcomes.
Ultimately, the future of healthcare is up for grabs. As technology, policy and culture tries to navigate and solve the complexity of healthcare, it will be entertainment that provides the traction necessary for sustainable change and better health outcomes.
Ari Mostov is a health entertainment producer. She is committed to scaling healing and changing behaviors through entertainment. She advises health companies on engagement and narrative while building scalable products that improve outcomes.