WITH APOLOGIES TO FANS OF HORSE RACING, I OBSERVE THAT THE SUBJECT of Vitamin D has just achieved a noteworthy trifecta in laboratory medicine. In recent months, at least four of the bigger controlled-circulation magazines widely-read by laboratory professionals have run major cover stories on Vitamin D and Vitamin D testing.
It is not often that a single topic becomes a headline story for the majority of controlled-circulation laboratory magazines within such a tight window of time. That makes this development noteworthy as a sign of an important industry trend. Because these controlled-circulation magazines are advertising-driven, they want topics that will draw eyeballs (and attract related advertisers). So their decision, somewhat independently of each other, to headline stories about Vitamin D testing, means that their market research has uncovered strong interest in this topic among their readers.
Using the amount of news space devoted to a single topic as a way to identify trends is an accepted practice. Those readers who share my age and perspective, will recall a mega-best-selling book in the early 1980s by the title of “Megatrends.” The author, John Naisbitt, calculated the amount of news space given to certain topics by newspapers, magazines, and television news broadcasts. He correctly understood that, as news reporters increased their coverage of specific topics, this would be an early marker for a trend that would become highly influential in society.
For the record, back in 1982, Naisbitt correctly called these three trends. One, a rapid transition from the industrial age to the information age. Two, the dominance of the global economy, requiring nations to open their national economies to global trade. Three, networks as the process which would open up commercial and public access to goods, services, and information across the globe. (Today, we have the Internet as the ultimate network.)
If you follow my chain of thought, the recent laboratory industry magazine coverage of Vitamin D testing is the marker for a major trend, still in its early stage. I will make a stab at a prediction. The physician and consumer hubbub that we now see over Vitamin D levels is the visible sign of a shift in both physician and consumer behavior. They are shifting from reactive healthcare to proactive healthcare. Vitamin D is the current example because it is relatively simple for consumers to cure a deficiency with an easy-to-take supplement.