Health Tech: Laurie Dewan On How Healthline Media’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
An Interview With Luke Kervin
Wellness for Cultural Competency — Wellness must take an inclusive, culturally competent approach. We found strong and consistent demand for multiple new wellness technologies among people of color, holding steady across generation, income, and education level, suggesting that this could be one of the most enthusiastic wellness audiences in the near future. These insights validate the work of designers, innovators, and marketers who center people of color in developing and marketing new health technologies and illustrate the further potential to more effectively connect with these consumers.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurie Dewan.
Laurie Dewan joined Healthline Media in 2019 to lead a new Consumer Insights function at the company, and now leads Brand, Insights and Communications across Healthline Media’s portfolio of consumer brands. Healthline Media is one of the world’s fastest growing health information brands with online properties including Healthline.com, the number one ranked health information site in the U.S. Laurie has built a team that leads research and data initiatives that empower Healthline to create insight-driven content and tools to help people live stronger, healthier lives.
Dewan joined Healthline with a successful track record leading data-driven content and insights strategies across major media companies including 20th Century Fox, BabyCenter, Netflix and Warner Bros. Most recently, she led consumer insights at Electronic Arts (EA), where she oversaw research initiatives across all titles in EA’s portfolio and worked cross-functionally to drive new concept generation. She is a four-time juror on the I-COM Data Creativity Awards. Dewan holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Amherst College.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I grew up never knowing I couldn’t do anything. I was raised in a household with very strong women. Women who marched in Civil Rights Movements and even got arrested doing so. They taught me that we evaluate the quality of our lives based on our ability to do our part, to make things right, to make things better, and to stand up for justice. This type of passion made me want to make a change in the way we connect. Healthline does an amazing job of bringing answers to those seeking them.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Growing up, my grandmother always showed this unusual strength. She never called me, “honey” or “little girl.” She was always calling me, “woman.” She taught me that feeling that I am here to change the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The world is not served by you playing small.” — Marianne Williamson. You can not make a change in the world without being the one to step forward. Hear the change that is needed and move forward. Do not be the one to wait for someone else.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
We’re living through an exciting time in health and wellness. Well-being is being reclaimed and returned to its original meaning, including all backgrounds, body types, voices, and minds under its fold.
Given the great potential of this moment, it’s time to ask: as marketers, are we doing all we can to bring wellness technology and innovations to all? In Healthline Media’s new report, Future of Wellness, we find that there is widespread optimism and excitement about wellness — but also that nearly half of people feel that not a lot of health innovations were being designed for them or their needs. The data further reveals that key demographic differences, such as race, income level, urban or rural location, age, and other factors, correspond to “wellness gaps,” where interest in new wellness technologies is much higher than adoption.
How do you think your technology can address this?
These gaps represent an opportunity. Today’s brands have a chance to connect with more people who are genuinely excited about their solutions, reach broader audiences, and ensure the future of wellness belongs to everyone. In our research at Healthline Media, we found that there is, in fact, a widespread desire for relevant, effective technologies that help people achieve their health and wellness goals:
- 91% of survey respondents feel that health and wellness technologies have the potential to help improve quality of life
- 91% feel these technologies help them understand how different aspects of their health and body are connected
- 79% are inspired by new health and wellness innovations currently being researched
Beyond identifying the trends, at Healthline Media, we leverage the breadth of our reach and the depth of our insights to drive campaign design and create content experiences that guide people to learn more and take action on their health.
What inspires you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
There are real people on the other side of our screens who are affected by what we do and our choices matter to them. One story can change and impact a person’s mind and heart. It is our job to make these words accessible to everyone. These wellness innovations have the ability to change a person’s life.
How do you think this might change the world?
These insights show that the vast majority of us feel emotional engagement and excitement about wellness innovation. And yet, the data shows that adoption rates lag well behind interest rates for specific demographics. With this in mind, we’ve identified four key shifts that illustrate the tremendous, currently unmet potential for a future of wellness in which innovations reach all people and communities.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about technology in wellness that people should think more deeply about?
“At Healthline Media, we are very aware of, and think deeply about, how changing health technology affects everyone’s real-world wellbeing. We do our best to understand and advocate for a human-centric approach to the evolving health landscape by investing in insights and by using technology to advocate, for example when we published our Conscious Language guide online last year.”
Based on your experience, what are five things readers should know when it comes to technology and wellness that can make a positive social impact?
- Wellness for Cultural Competency — Wellness must take an inclusive, culturally competent approach. We found strong and consistent demand for multiple new wellness technologies among people of color, holding steady across generation, income, and education level, suggesting that this could be one of the most enthusiastic wellness audiences in the near future. These insights validate the work of designers, innovators, and marketers who center people of color in developing and marketing new health technologies and illustrate the further potential to more effectively connect with these consumers.
- Wellness Within Reach — Although many wellness innovations are affordable or becoming more affordable, the perception that wellness is “high-end” can leave out swathes of the market that may otherwise benefit. 72% of low-income respondents say that health and wellness innovations are too expensive, along with 65% of medium-income respondents. Across a number of wellness categories, like nutrition, fitness, sleep, and mental health, respondents showed low usage but high interest — often for technologies that sit at a higher price point. Perception of high costs means some people aren’t adopting the solutions they need. This opens the door to both creating lower price-point options and educating consumers about the actual price of some innovations. After all, great innovations don’t have to be pricey — in fact, we found that smartphone apps were some of the most consistently high-usage and best-known innovations across categories.
- Wellness Everywhere — People living in rural areas are often underserved in healthcare and mental health — but they are eager for solutions. We have an opportunity to ensure wellness innovations are being made and marketed with them in mind. Rural respondents average over 20% lower adoption than their urban counterparts, despite the fact that interest levels are similar. For instance, knowing that rural residents have significantly less access to mental healthcare, wellness innovations could help fill in that gap. Rural respondents expect brands to value consumer mental and emotional health at similar rates as urban counterparts. With current adoption rates of just 7%, but interest rates of 26%, rural audiences are ready to try new solutions.
- Wellness for Every Body and Mind — Well-being belongs to all, not just those who are young, fit, and healthy already. Whether that means body type, ability, age, chronic conditions, or other factors, people need solutions that work for them. However, our data suggested that too many people feel like existing technology just isn’t designed for them. Overall, 45% found new health and wellness technologies and innovations difficult to use. There are opportunities to reach more people and educate them on how wellness innovations could help. Given the importance of mental and physical wellness as we age, we have an urgent opportunity to connect older audiences with technology that works for them.
- Shaping a Future of Wellness for Everyone — Wellness ideas are shifting — in fact, 9 of 10 people feel optimistic about the future of wellness. Wellness belongs to everyone, regardless of factors like ethnicity, socioeconomic status, location, health history, and much more. Given the enthusiasm among audiences today, it’s time for all of us to work to change the cultural narrative around what wellness is and what it can be. The right messaging can reach more people, change more minds, and bring solutions to the whole spectrum of people who feel excited and inspired by wellness innovation. Together we can define a new future of wellness — for all.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would tell our younger generations to be resilient in their growth. Use this evolving change in technology to engage and enhance their reach and network. Having grown up within this society they are at an advantage to take these innovations one step forward.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Healthline Media delivers top-tier health-related information to more than 94 million people each month through our media partners. With a language everyone can understand, Healthline publishes more than 1,500 pieces of content a month. Each piece is carefully reviewed by medical experts, doctors, and clinicians, ensuring factual content across our platforms. We use our content to not only educate but to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable approach to wellness. We do this by making information and health-related solutions attainable for people everywhere. You can follow all content on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and through Healthline media’s website.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.