June 6, 2017

Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report: 5 Key Healthcare Takeaways

Image of a person typing on keyboard


Venture capitalist and digital guru Mary Meeker, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, presented her highly anticipated annual Internet Trends Report — which TechCrunch has called the “state of the union for the technology industry” — at the 2017 Code Conference on May 31. The annual report culls research and insights on all things innovative; from global Internet and smart phone use to social, video and voice search.

Meeker is known for her insights on tech trends, and last year, her 213-page report covered everything digital. This year, the report is a whopping 355 pages; partially because, for the first time, it includes a new, 30-page section on the merging worlds of tech and healthcare. As TechCrunch put it, “This was the first year Meeker included healthcare in her report and it shows just how much of a role tech is going to play in improving our lives going forward.”

Don’t have time to look through a 355-page presentation deck full of detailed charts and graphs? Don’t worry — in this POV, we summarize the five key tech-healthcare takeaways from the 2017 report and highlight additional trends across the tech industry. The full report can be found online here.

List of Internet Trends in 2017


Sources of — and Access to — Digital Health Data Are Growing Rapidly

The rapid pace of tech advancements now makes it possible to gather more health data than ever.

The rise of health apps means there’s more health data in consumers’ hands — which means they have more power than ever to take control of their health and well being. Of particular interest is that the majority of health-app downloads in 2015 and 2016 occurred in countries other than the United States. Globally, the breakdown of health app categories is as follows:

  • Fitness –  33%
  • Disease and treatment –  24%
  • Lifestyle and stress – 17%
  • Diet and nutrition – 12%
  • Other – 11%

Adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) among office-based physicians is also on the rise, having increased from 21% to 87% between 2004 and 2015. Data points collected via EHRs include:

  • clinical results
  • scanned images
  • vital signs
  • “problems”

And as of 2016, approximately 25% of Americans owned a wearable.

Along with an increase in digital inputs of healthcare data, the percentage of hospitals that now enable patients to access their digital data has increased, from 24% in 2012 to 95% in 2015 for viewable data; and from 14% in 2012 to 87% in 2015 for downloadable data.

As individuals and organizations adopt digital tools — apps, wearables, health-monitoring tools, electronic health records, etc. — it becomes easier to aggregate, categorize and synthesize data.

Consumers More Comfortable Sharing Health Data

In addition to the ever-growing list of devices that make data collection possible, consumers themselves are becoming more comfortable sharing health-related information. They share with family, friends and support systems via fitness apps, social media or online patient communities. And increasingly, they share with tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and others.

But not all tech companies are trusted equally when it comes to the sharing of health information: A 2016 survey by Rock Health showed that 60% of respondents would feel comfortable sharing health data with Google, while only 39% would be willing to share health data with Amazon and Facebook.

Access to More Data Means More Clinical Insights Sooner

In 1950, we could expect medical knowledge to double every 50 years, but in 2010, the time it took to double medical knowledge was every 3.5 years!

Advancements like machine learning and artificial intelligence are making it possible for computing systems like IBM Watson and other simulation software to quickly gather data and predict outcomes that would’ve taken humans years to gather and calculate. Furthermore, new sources of data like DNA sequencing combined with greater information sharing in the scientific community means it’s now possible to shorten the time frame for clinical trials.

Image of meeker clinical trials

Consumer Expectations Are Driving Innovations in Healthcare Delivery

Meeker noted, and Intouch has said it before: consumers — particularly Millennials — are taking a more active role in their own health and well being than ever before. But regardless of age, everyone has come to expect quick, easy access to answers — and they’re going online or to their health apps to find them: 88% of consumers are using at least one health tool, such as telemedicine or wearables.

Consumers’ increased expectations about what their experiences should be like — and their greater access to data about their own health — are driving the pharma industry’s focus; shifting it away from brand centricity toward customer/patient centricity. The need to step away from the traditional communications model is more important than it’s ever been.

The success of empathy-building VR/AR apps like In My Eyes, which lets users see what it’s like to have three different retinal diseases, or BlueStar, the prescription-only, insurance-covered app that helps patients manage diabetes, and smart pills, which track medication adherence are only just the beginning of what’s possible in terms of enhancing user experiences.

Screen shots from BlueStar, a diabetes management app

Genome Sequencing and Analysis Is Moving Faster Than Ever

In 2001, the cost to sequence one genome was $100MM and took 10 months to accomplish; in 2015, it took 27 hours and cost about $1k.

In 2008, there were only five personalized therapies; in 2016, there were 132. As more genomics technologies emerge, research can intensify, sequencing and analysis can happen faster, and more treatments can be customized for each individual’s condition.

Despite questions about how physicians, payers and patients might handle computer-generated recommendations from the likes of IBM Watson, and despite setbacks like the one seen when the IMB-MD Anderson partnership to end cancer was placed on hold, we’re now closer to healthcare solutions than we’ve ever been.

Non-Healthcare Tech Trends Continue to Evolve
In addition to Meeker’s first-ever summary of digital health trends, the full Internet Trends report delves deep into trends from other areas of technology. Below is a summary; view the full report for details.

Advertising Media is Seeing Major Shifts

As advertising becomes easier to avoid with the help of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu and ad blockers, ads are becoming pervasive in other ways.

On the whole, opportunities for advertising have exploded, from product listings on Google, to Facebook contextual ads, to targeted “pins,” to local advertising that drives customers to brick-and-mortar shops, and even “in-ride” (Uber, taxis) and “in-hand” (coffee cup) media channels. Three-hundred-sixty-degree advertising is the new normal.

When it comes to Internet ads, Google and Facebook reign supreme, representing 85% of ad revenue growth between 2015 and 2016. Digital advertising is expected to surpass TV this year, yet pharma continues to spend 70% of its ad dollars on television.

Despite the growing opportunities, some advertisers — not just pharma — find measuring ROI challenging. Some don’t want to measure at all, because they don’t like the results they get. But programmatic, data-driven platforms are rapidly improving, and targeting is becoming more accurate, making ROI easier to measure.

Mobile Is Still King

Smartphone shipments have slowed while Internet use grows; yet the shift to greater mobile usage continues. Meeker noted that U.S. adults now spend more than three hours per day on mobile Internet use. And although ad growth is driven by mobile, there remains a gap between time spent on mobile and ad spend — people spend 28% of their media time on mobile, but that platform gets only 21% of ad spend.

Search Becomes Image- and Voice-Enabled

“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.”

  • Ben Silbermann, Pinterest Founder / CEO

It’s no longer necessary, Meeker noted, to type a search query. Tools like Google Lens make it possible to snap a photo and use the image for search purposes. Twenty percent of mobile search is now done by voice, and voice recognition is getting better and better. Pharma has even begun to experiment with voice technology’s potential to help patients.

Social Drives Transparency

The nature of social media has driven demand for higher quality, better customer support, and increased transparency — all areas in which pharma can improve.

One social feature that’s seeing increased implementation is “click-to-chat.” As we noted late last year, the use of chatbots is on the rise. Users have started to spend more time on chat/messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger than they do on social media platforms, and many companies are developing chatbots that function like customer service reps within those apps. Some pharma companies have experimented with chatbots, but they are the exception, not the rule.

Other Technology Highlights

  • Gaming: It’s the new engagement. It’s on a global scale, and it’s helping prepare society for more human/computer interactions.Meeker believes gaming isn’t going away, either — and we agree. In fact, it represents the “mother lode” of ideas for tech innovation. Gaming isn’t just for pimply teenagers — although playing as a youth is how Elon Musk got interested in software engineering and how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got interested in programming — it’s improving performance across disciplines.
    Chart showing comparison of time spent on social platforms
  • Digital streaming: It’s disrupted the way we consume media. Digital subscriptions are increasing, and at the same time, so is “cord cutting.” We’re reducing pay-TV services like traditional cable and opting instead for Internet streaming. This applies to our music consumption habits, as well. Services like Pandora and Spotify make it easy to listen where we want to what we want, whenever we want.
    Graph showing growth of Netflix subscribers between 1999 & 2017
  • Personalization: It’s everything. Pharma R&D’s version of this is personalized medicine; and personalization should be what we strive for as marketers. As our access to more and different types of data grows, this should become less of a challenge.
  • The Cloud: Its evolution is paving the way for innovation across the infrastructure. But security remains an issue.
    Image showing cloud computing tools for data analysis and storage
  • Email: Be careful what you click. Email spam with malicious attachments is exploding as cloud usage increases. As a result, legitimate email marketers will suffer the consequences as email delivery rates decline due to increased security measures.
  • Enterprise software: Users now expect products to be as well designed, easy to use and reliable as a consumer app … but they’re not — yet.
    Change in in time of ratio of designers to developers for enterprise software products
  • Online is everything: Being able to take care of everything from grocery shopping to gift shopping to doctor shopping is what people expect now. Is pharma serving this need?
  • Asia can’t be ignored: The growth of mobile Internet use in China has grown from a little more than 100MM in 2008 to nearly 700MM in 2016. Time is spent mostly on entertainment sources like messaging apps, live-streaming video and gaming. E-commerce in China has seen year-over-year growth of more than 24% between 2012 and 2016, 71% of which is via mobile. Furthermore, China’s online advertising revenue in 2016 had reach $40 billion.Mobile and Internet use in India is slower on the uptake due to lower GDP per capita, but things are improving and the country shouldn’t be disregarded. One statistic of particular note: 64% of India’s population — and 71% of its Internet users — is under the age of 35. As this population is more able to see what’s happening in the world beyond them, their expectations about their own experiences will change.


If there is one common theme throughout the 2017 report, in a word, it is data. Consider this: a typical 500-bed hospital generates 50 petabytes of data from apps and databases to tablets and mobile devices. A petabyte, by the way, equals a million gigabytes or 1,000 terabytes. That’s a lot of data.

The proliferation and availability of data is driving everything … outcomes, efficiencies, possibilities, revolutions.

Annually, Mary Meeker’s presentation on “Internet Trends” is highly anticipated, and no doubt the report continues to serve throughout the year as the go-to for digital research and insights all in one place. The 2017 focus on digital health validates the exponentially increasing role tech is playing in healthcare.

The question remains, however, if the pharma industry is tracking with this trend.

Download the complete report here:  http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Note: All images shown from Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report