Forces of change

The future of health

The future of health will likely be driven by digital transformation enabled by radically interoperable data and open, secure platforms. Health is likely to revolve around sustaining well-being rather than responding to illness.

By 2040, we expect the consumer will be at the center of the health model. Interoperable, always-on data will promote closer collaboration among industry stakeholders, and new combinations of services will be offered by incumbents and new entrants (disruptors). Interventions and treatments are likely to be more precise, less complex, less invasive, and cheaper.

Health will be defined holistically as an overall state of well-being encompassing mental, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Not only will consumers have access to detailed information about their own health, they will own their health data and play a central role in making decisions about their health and well-being.

The future of health will impact incumbent stakeholders, new entrants, employers, and consumers. Many incumbents are understandably hesitant to drive change in a marketplace that they currently dominate. Given their strong foothold in the existing ecosystem, and their ability to navigate the regulatory environment, these organizations may be well-positioned to lead from the front.

Largely replacing the siloed industry segments we have now (such as health systems and clinicians, health plans, biopharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers), we expect new roles, functions, and players to emerge. In the future of health, we expect three broad categories to emerge (data and platforms, well-being and care delivery, and care enablement).

New business models will incorporate these archetypes and redefine the health landscape. Organizations should choose where they want to play across these archetypes. This report takes four stakeholders as examples: hospitals and health systems, health plans, medical device companies, and drug manufacturers.

As stakeholders prepare for the future of health, they should consider the following actions:

  • Build new businesses.
  • Forge partnerships.
  • Appeal to the newly empowered health consumer.

In the future of health, incumbents and industry disruptors will share a common purpose. While disease will never be completely eliminated, through science, data, and technology, we will be able to identify it earlier, intervene proactively, and understand its progression to help consumers effectively and actively sustain their well-being. The future will be focused on wellness and managed by companies that assume new roles to drive value in a transformed health ecosystem. If this vision for the future of health is realized, we could see healthier populations and dramatic decreases in health care spending. 

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