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What does our world look like in 2050? How can we prevent skyrocketing healthcare costs by means of prevention and early diagnosis? Which technological and behavioural measures lead to overall health, happiness and well-being? This article explains Deloitte’s vision for the future of health. Our visions are invitations for our clients and partners to join us in envisaging – and accordingly shaping – a pleasant planet.
The health outlook of 2050 in a three-point nutshell:
Health rather than healthcare: our focus is on staying healthy, instead of medical interventions that deal with diseases.
Data-driven technologies support both prevention and early diagnostics, as well as supporting doctors with diagnostics and decisions about the treatment of their patients.
Behavioural changes from the industry, the government and individuals are required for our overall health, happiness and well-being.
Welcome to 2050. Hyper-personalised food and data-driven technologies such as implantable sensors and wearable devices support prevention and early diagnostics. Advanced micro interventions, such as apps that can diagnose depression based on abnormal speech patterns and social interactions, are the new norm. Data-analytics and AI applications support doctors with diagnostics and decisions about treatments. Our environment is healthy, a balanced lifestyle is an integral part of school curricula, and junk food is more expensive.
This paradigm shift sees us focusing on health rather than healthcare. This means that our time, energy and resources are primarily devoted to staying healthy. By doing so, we no longer focus on medical interventions that deal with diseases, which means we have avoided our healthcare swallowing up 20 percent of our GDP, and an even larger part of our scarce workforce. Both of which aren’t sustainable.
In 2050, we’re confronted with an ageing population, a sharp increase in chronic diseases, and more innovative but expensive therapies. Moreover, healthcare professionals have become increasingly scarce. “We need a new health ecosystem to deal with the challenges of the future,” says John Luijs, a partner at Deloitte who aims to transform the health ecosystem. “All of us – the industry, the government and individual citizens – have to take responsibility.”
“All of us – the
industry, the government
and individual citizens –
have to take responsibility.”
The fundamental shift from healthcare to health requires a more holistic view of health. “At the moment, we define ‘healthy’ as ‘not being sick’,” explains John. “But we can achieve a lot more when we focus on our overall well-being.” Machteld Huber’s definition of ‘positive health’ provides inspiration here. In this definition, health includes our bodily functions as well as our mental well-being, our daily functioning, our participation in society, our quality of life and the meaning we find in our lives.
This holistic view of health extends the health ecosystem to other industries, such as food, retail, finance and technology. The government’s policy on health needs to comprise education, welfare policy, and combatting social and economic inequality. And it’s not just patients that are part of the future of healthcare, it’s all of us – the sick as well as the healthy, and everyone in between.
“At the moment, we define
‘healthy’ as ‘not being sick’,
but we can achieve a lot more
when we focus on
our overall well-being.”
Data-driven technologies provide tremendous opportunities for the shift from healthcare to health, as they can support prevention and early diagnostics. “In 2050, managing your health based on your health data is a central part of everyone’s life,” says John. Biosensors detecting blood glucose, cortisol or drug levels; motion sensors; environmental sensors detecting air pressure or UV levels; wearable devices; and even implantable sensors detecting physiological changes such as cardiac function or sleep patterns: they continuously collect health data and provide us with real-time feedback. From step counters to apps for hyper-personalised food: we’re constantly enabled to improve our health and well-being.
Behavioural nudging based on this data collection becomes increasingly important. These nudges have harnessed advances in behavioural health research, med tech and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve outcomes, via automated round-the-clock personalised interventions and caregiver-led personalised insights proposed in real-time by health AI. These interventions – such as automatic app detection of abnormal speech to diagnose depression, pharmacologic treatments delivered by drones, and VR games used for in-home activity – are accessible, easy and affordable for us all.
The work of healthcare professionals is a lot more data-driven in 2050. Data-analytics and AI applications support doctors with diagnostics and decisions about the treatment of their patients. Interoperable data platforms enable healthcare professionals to connect the dots and provide timely, personalised health interventions. People with chronic conditions are monitored at home and only visit the hospital when needed: healthcare is digital first.
John’s keen to underline the fact that technology will support healthcare professionals, not replace them. “We need people to understand the data, to explain the outcomes to patients, and to help them effectively improve their health,” he explains. “As a result of technology, the human factor will become even more important in the work of healthcare professionals.”
In 2050, we’re encouraged to take control of our own health. But it’s not all dependent on the individual: making the right health decisions has been made easier, which has led to an improved public health overall. We live in a healthy environment, surrounded by parks, playgrounds and plenty of options to join sports activities. Outside of our homes, environmental sensors detect the levels of UV and pollen, as well as changes in air pressure. A healthy lifestyle is an integral part of school curricula and unhealthy food is now more expensive, whereas fruits and vegetables are cheaper and easily accessible. And every company encourages its employees to take care of their own well-being.The ageing population and the growing gap of people with different socioeconomic statuses will challenge the solidarity principle that underpins the current healthcare system, says John. “We need business models that enable accessibility but also allow for differentiation,” he says. A possible scenario is to allow people to pay a premium for more luxurious healthcare, and that this premium is used to support healthcare accessibility for people with a lower income.The shift from healthcare to health will be a major change for the entire health ecosystem. Data-driven and digital care solutions provide opportunities, but the future of health also requires behavioural changes from the industry, the government and individuals. Ultimately, the shift from healthcare to health is not only about ensuring the affordability and accessibility of healthcare. It’s about improving our health – that is, our overall health, happiness and well-being.Read more about Deloitte’s vision of the health(care) future of the Netherlands.
Connect with us
John LuijsFuture of Health lead +31 (0)88 288 firstname.lastname@example.org