Help yourself. Seriously. Pick up your mobile device and get it done. Whatever “it” is, chances are there’s an App for that. While it may not seem intuitive for us “forty-somethings” and up, the next generation of Balfour Beatty customers has grown up with instant, decentralized access to information. Our 17 year old son, Ethan, uses his iPhone for everything. He recently had pain in his wrist that worsened over two months. We tried the usual: ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and rest. But when the pain didn’t improve, he suggested we turn to the web for answers.


Here’s what happened next…the Health Tap App allowed us to ask doctors what may be wrong. We learned the wrist probably wasn’t broken and posted a request for an orthopedic referral from friends on Facebook. In the meantime, the iTriage App allowed us to put in symptoms and receive a list of options: where to find medical help in our town, descriptions of possible conditions, treatment methods, tests and more. We cross-referenced orthopedic recommendations from friends with the ones from the App, scheduled an appointment on-line after hours, and had a successful doctor visit the following day.

Increased use of mobile devices is one of several megatrends that will shape expectations from the next generation of clients, students and patients. Remember the trend we saw in the banking industry? Consumers used to visit a physical bank. Now, ATMs are integrated into grocery stores, shopping malls and even the workplace—driving to a bank is reserved for loans or special circumstances. The decentralization of withdrawals and deposits reduced overhead costs for financial institutions and improved the speed and convenience of services for consumers. We now observe similar pressures in the healthcare industry.

In almost all countries worldwide, healthcare costs are increasing faster than per capita income. Health economics dictate a shift in spending – away from treating (in large, centralized and expensive-to-run facilities) and towards predicting, diagnosing and monitoring. Currently, 70% of healthcare dollars are spent on treatment, by 2025 however, trends show a decline to 35%, with a spending shift to prediction and diagnosis.  Triage is moving on-line to save patients and medical care givers precious time, plus it lowers our overall spending for treatment.

Consumers will attempt self-diagnosis more frequently by sending in preliminary data (i.e. blood pressure, medications taken, sugar count) to on-line physician services before visiting a hospital. We will carry the most up-to-date diagnostics in our mobile phones and visit quick clinics placed in convenient local spaces. Smart healthcare solutions don’t stop there—using the overhead of existing facilities means less expense for healthcare overhead and improved access for consumers.

Imagine integrating healthcare clinics into Balfour Beatty’s new commercial, retail, or educational developments of the future. New technologies and services will be “smart”, reducing the need for large brick-and-mortar overheads with hefty utility bills. Integrated parking solutions will also be more common, leveraging solar shading, solar charging vehicles and smart grids that turn power on/off and buy/sell when and where energy is needed.

Smart solutions can also come from better use of technology, improved efficiency, and micro-generation. As a division, Balfour Beatty Investments has successfully deployed market leading programmes to meet megatrend demands, such as Balfour Beatty Communities “Switch4Good” behavior change program and our newly built, super-efficient homes at Fort Bliss, Texas. We’ve also integrated a central management system in over 16,000 of our street lights in the UK to automatically change settings based on usage and footfall in their geographical location. These “smart” efforts are able to save the division nearly £200,000 per year in operational expenses.

Being “sustainable” does not mean companies should keep traditional business practices if they no longer meet market demands. To remain successful in the long-term, companies must identify social trends and shift their strategies accordingly. In the Crawford household, that means no more driving to sit in the hospital waiting room for hours. We now have experienced success with healthcare Apps, and Ethan has a cast on his arm for the next 8 weeks to show for it.

How will companies know when to integrate new technologies and abandon the old ones? What other trends will affect our target markets? Tweet what you think @TCInnovator.