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7 Ways Health Care Could Be Different for Generation Z

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This year, for the second time, Sandi Peterson, Johnson & Johnson Group Worldwide Chairman, was named to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list. At the 2015 The Most Powerful Women summit in Washington D.C., she will take the stage to talk about global risk and opportunity and J&J’s ongoing commitment to advancing health care innovation around the world. Below, just a few ways it could impact the health of the next generation.

1. You’ll expect to have a robot in the operating room.

What role will a robot play in the OR of the future? Robotic-assisted surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery that uses technology to give surgeons greater control, access and accuracy during a procedure, while benefitting patients by minimizing trauma and scarring and enabling accelerated healing.

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This March, Johnson & Johnson announced that Ethicon, a medical device company within the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, had signed an agreement to enter into a strategic collaboration with Google, Inc., working with the Life Sciences team on advancing surgical robotics to benefit surgeons, patients and health care systems.

“This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care, and together, we aim to put the best science, technology and surgical know-how in the hands of medical teams around the world,” said Gary Pruden, Worldwide Chairman, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices.

2. You could wear a bracelet that gives an instant read on your stress levels.

Just like Millennials, Gen Zers love their devices and apps. But, by 2025, your smart watch may do more than keep you connected, it could help you monitor your stress levels in real-time. In fact, a number of start-ups are developing wearables like a dedicated wristband that will be able to identify stress by monitoring your heart rate.

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These capabilities essentially rely on pattern recognition algorithms (via heart or respiration rate) to determine when you’re becoming overwhelmed. The devices could then prompt you to engage in mindfulness exercises that could literally remind you to calm down, one breath at a time.

“The jury is still out on how effective these new wearables and apps will be at helping us recognize and manage our stress. But as capabilities mature, it is quite possible that Generation Z will have technological options for managing and even predicting stress that will not only make life a little easier but could yield measurable health benefits as well,” said Michael Weinberger, Senior Director, Digital Solutions-Product Development, LifeScan, Inc., part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.

3. Your gut will be your guide to your health.

Right now your entire body is home to a diverse population of microbes, commonly known as bacteria, mostly working together (surprise!) to keep you healthy. A few years down the line, teasing out what that population is doing could hold important clues to your health.

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Over the past several years, there’s been growing scientific research linking an imbalanced microbial community to conditions as diverse as cancer, inflammatory, pulmonary and metabolic disease. The Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI), a part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, is focusing on the emerging area of science around bacteria that will be playing an increasingly crucial role in human health.

“By better understanding the microbiome–the diverse population of bacteria living in and on the human body–we hope to gain a deeper understanding of its role in disease and find new therapies to address major autoimmune diseases and other conditions for which no sufficient treatment options exist today,” said Dirk Gevers, Ph.D., Global Head of the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute.

4. Diseases will be intercepted before they take hold.

The future of healthcare will increasingly depend on intercepting a disease before it happens. In other words, stopping diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer before they can take root inside the body. The future of healthcare will increasingly depend on intercepting a disease before it happens. In other words, stopping diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer before they can take root inside the body.

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Disease interception works to tackle the origins of disease, such as genetic predisposition, environmental exposure and phenotypic alterations, according to Benjamin Wiegand, Ph.D., Global Head, Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA), a new, incubator-like group, funded by Janssen Research & Development, LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The goal of DIA is to identify the root causes of disease and enable the development of interventions that stop the progression to disease often by asking the role of potential triggers.

“Through this novel approach, we aim to predict and pre-empt an individual from progressing to disease – before they get sick,” said Wiegand. It’s the ultimate goal of improving individual and societal health and wellness.

5. DNA mapping will be as common as knowing your blood type.

Everybody understands that human health results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In 2003, as a result of decades of research and billions of dollars, the genomic community had an A-HA break through moment when the full human genome was successfully sequenced. Today, DNA sequencing technology enables the sequence of an individual in just a few days at a cost of a few thousand dollars! The future of health care has arrived and it includes patients knowing their genome as part of their standard health record. This is transformational in healthcare, enabling a myriad of decisions regarding prognosis, disease interception, prevention and management and ultimately leading to the realization of Personalized Medicine, providing a new level of patient care and human wellness.

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Scientists at Janssen Research and Development are utilizing genomic sequencing data from prospective clinical research volunteer participants to identify individuals at risk for a disease who are likely to benefit from attempts at interception or prevention, as well as to understand which patients are most likely to benefit from a specific therapy.

“Advances in biotechnology have opened the door to a wealth of information about the human genome and individual variations. As our ability to collect, analyze and understand this information grows rapidly, individuals are increasingly empowered to understand their health, and medical researchers have extraordinary opportunities to develop targeted therapeutics and preventions,” said Jay Siegel, Chief Technology Officer and Head, Scientific Strategy and Policy, Johnson & Johnson.

6. Healthcare “start-ups” could be the new Silicon Valley.

Similar to how breakthroughs in computer power, miniaturization of electronics and expansion to near ubiquity of the Internet have spurned innovative and transformational “start-ups” in the tech industry, the healthcare industry is undergoing a similar revolution. Of particular interest is Digital Healthcare and leveraging social media to engage patients and provide better care. Much as the tech industry was transformed by agile and innovative start-ups, along the frontiers of Digital Health and Wellness will see similar action with many start-ups rapidly iterating and prototyping new ideas.

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Healthcare companies like Johnson & Johnson Innovation are seeding digital entrepreneurs to help fuel innovative thinking around health and healthcare. At J&J, we have regional hub innovation centers located in Boston, California, London and Shanghai that look for high potential healthcare companies that foster innovation and growth. Part of that support for healthcare start-ups extends also to providing a space to do the work. JLabs, part of our external research & development engine, provides a capital-efficient, resource-rich environment where emerging companies can transform the scientific discoveries of today into healthcare breakthroughs of tomorrow. All aimed at making a tremendous impact on health and wellness.

“Each day, we see entrepreneurs committed to the convergence of technology and science, in their quest to change patients’ lives and enhance consumer experiences. As technology continues to become omnipotent, “extreme future adopters” (Generation Z) will demand much greater personalized healthcare experiences whether interacting with their physician, health regimen or the consumer products they trust for health, wellness and beauty,” said Melinda Richter, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS.

7. Cancer could be a disease of yesteryear.

That might be wishful thinking, but already today, scientists understand more about cancer than ever before. In fact, there are remarkable breakthroughs taking place to help better understand how cancer takes root and causes a person to become sick.

“In the past two decades, oncology research has transformed our approach to treating patients affected by cancer. Scientists are now able to sequence entire cancer genomes within an individual patient, which has resulted in more precise and effective treatments,” said William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, LLC.

Earlier this year, the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research named Dr. Bert Vogelstein as the 2015 recipient for his work in cancer research. The award honors the work of an active scientist who has made a significant, transformational contribution toward the improvement of human health.

Dr. Bert Vogelstein and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins formulated the idea that cancer is caused by sequential mutations of specific genes, then used human tissues to test this hypothesis. By uncovering the molecular basis for certain forms of cancer, Dr. Vogelstein advanced our understanding of how cancer develops, and provided the basis for a great deal of the work that we now refer to as personalized or precision medicine.

“We at Janssen are committed to building on the work of Dr. Vogelstein, who showed us that the origins of cancer begin many years before the onset of disease and provides us with the tools to intercept cancer before it ever becomes an illness. Empowered by scientific breakthroughs, spurred on by researchers like Dr. Vogelstein, we enter a new era of hope and promise for cancer patients,” said Dr. Hait.

Johnson & Johnson is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Fortune The Most Powerful Women summit.

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