Posted: 15 Dec. 2020 4 min.

Let us focus on healthy aging instead of traditional healthcare

Topics: Life Sciences & Health Care

By 2025, close to 850 million people will be 65 or older – this equals 11 percent of the global population (21 percent of the European population). This can put significant pressure on our health-care system unless we change the traditional approach of healthcare. More and more people are actively using technology to monitor their own health and improve their activity and awareness of healthy lifestyles. And with good reason. With available technology, people and healthcare professionals can do a lot to prevent diseases and ensure a healthy ageing.

Imagine this scenario: Freja is booked to have a c-section due to complications during her pregnancy. Her doctor informs her that how babies are born impact their gut microbes, which can influence the baby’s immune health and future health risks – the guts of babies born by c-section are more likely to include harmful microbes. To ensure the baby’s healthy gut microbiome, Freja’s doctor takes a cervical and vaginal swap and sends it to the hospital’s lab. At the lab, scientists use an AI-enabled in-vitro diagnostic test to identify the helpful strains of bacteria from Freja’s swab that her baby may lack to create a personalised formula for Freja to give to her baby.

This scenario is from Deloitte’s new report ‘Predicting the Future of Healthcare and Life Sciences in 2025’ and is a great example of doctors and patients taking a proactive approach to disease prevention, using the latest technology to avoid possible illnesses and diseases in the future.

I believe that the potential to pursue similar approaches where we focus on preventing illnesses rather than just treating them is promising and will be a true game-changer in the way we live our lives. Let us all be more proactive than reactive!

Prevention is beneficial for all

We are already experiencing more and more people using validated apps, wearables and other connected monitoring devices to collect and track health data to achieve knowledge about their personal health and health risks and also sharing this data with healthcare professionals. From hyper-personalised insights, people can get informed about their personal risks of e.g. developing chronic diseases or if their genes make them especially exposed to a specific illness, they need to keep an eye on. This trend is driven by people’s desire to live a longer and healthier life, and I believe the potential of utilizing health data, AI and other technologies to prevent disease is significant. However, to ensure the full benefit, this data needs to be shared with the healthcare ecosystem on an ongoing and real-time basis – obviously in a safe and secure manner.

Utilizing medical technologies and health data to prevent diseases are beneficial for both patients, our healthcare system and society in general. Patients might not have to fight against a disease, undergo surgery and be kept away from their families and loved ones to the extend we see today. Our healthcare system would treat less people, freeing up much needed resources to give the absolute best treatment to patients in need of it and instead let people age healthier and more safely.

I can warmly recommend reading ‘Predicting the Future of Healthcare and Life Sciences in 2025’ containing 10 interesting predictions about where the life sciences industry and our healthcare system are headed.

Reap the fruits of a better disease prevention

Our report ‘Predicting the Future of Healthcare and Life Sciences in 2025’ lists several constraints that need to be conquered for this development to start:

  • Skills. People need the digital skills and health literacy to understand how technologies, online health coaches, wearables, apps, scanners etc. work and how they can improve their immune health and mitigate the risks of poor health and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Funding. While the costs of sensors and genetic testing have decreased significantly, payers such as insurance companies, governments and others should contribute with financial discounts and incentives in response to evidence of people’s healthy lifestyles.
  • Regulation. Governments should focus on preventative health, fast-tracking regulatory approvals for health tech and medical devices that enable people to take more control of their own wellbeing, while obviously ensuring products safety and effectiveness.
  • Privacy. Data security and privacy needs to get improved in order that people do not need to fear loss or misuse of personal data. 5G are enabling medical technologies and the connectivity between devices. 

From my point of view, Denmark is well on our way on all four items, but we need to raise our level of ambition and accelerate the development to reap the fruits of a better disease prevention – especially related to skills and improving the healthy literacy amongst the population as the possibilities can be infinite.

One of the few positives, the COVID-19 has brought with it, is an acceleration of the movement towards more disease prevention. Not only has the pandemic raised the public awareness of health risks and how to mitigate them including focus on mental health. The virus has also increased the use of technology to monitor health and keep a healthy lifestyle. 

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Sumit Sudan

Sumit Sudan

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Spørg mig om: Pharma, medicinalbranchen, life sciences, revision af medicinalvirksomheder, børsnoteringer Sumit er dansk leder af vores Life Sciences - industrigruppe. Han har mere end 17 års erfaring som revisor for medicinalvirksomheder og børsnoterede virksomheder.